Christmas Past

Christmas Past – some historic titbits

Henry VIII is believed to be the first monarch to have turkey for Christmas.

The Christmas Cracker was invented by a chap called Tom Smith who set up a shop in Clerkenwell. The idea was inspired by the French sweet called the Bon-Bon. The original ones didn’t go bang though. Smith got the idea for that when he was sitting at home and heard a particularly loud crack from a log in the fireplace.

The twelve days of Xmas arise from an edict by Alfred The Great that nobody should do any non-essential work during this period.

Santa in the sky? This may derive from the story of the Norse god Odin who, at midwinter, would mount his eight legged horse and fly through the night distributing bread, trinkets and good luck to the worthy and curses to the unworthy.

Working class Victorians could not generally afford to go out and buy a goose just before Xmas. Instead they would join a Goose Club which was usually run by a local pub. They’d make payments through the autumn and have a bird for Xmas day. Most homes, though, had open fires but no oven so the goose was taken to the local baker to be cooked.

If you are going to church on the 25th and want to keep legal then leave the car at home. In 1551 Edward VI passed a law ruling that everybody had to walk to church on Xmas day. The law has never been repealed.