It’s that special time of the year once again. I am sure that by now you are all organised and already taking part in the Christmas spirit! I have packaged up and posted gifts to the Offspring on the other side of the world. Gifts for Pepe have been procured, wrapped and put safely out of reach from curious little paws! Christmas brings with it many lovely traditions, one off events and things that only happen at this time of year. We take part in these traditions mostly without knowing any of the history of where, why and how they came about. The Offspring happened to ask me just the other week, “what is boxing day for?” so……..I have been beavering away (with the help of lots of Latte’s) and I will share with you some of the why’s where’s and how they came about!
Why Do We Have Boxing Day??
Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas Day, the 26th December. In England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other colonial countries it’s a public holiday but why is it called Boxing Day? There are a number of theories about this, the earliest being that around 800 years ago churches, on the day after Christmas Day, opened the collecting boxes or alms boxes on this day and distributed it to the poor.
Another popular idea being that many years ago factory workers were given a Christmas Box by the factory owners the day after Christmas Day. Christmas Box is an alternative expression for Christmas present. Hence Boxing Day.
The day is also known to catholics as St.Stephens Day, Wren’s Day if you are in Ireland and Day of Goodwill if you are in South Africa.
Many traditions have developed around Boxing Day. In the UK and Canada it has become a shopping day. Many sporting events such as cricket in Australia, football in England and Ice Hockey in Canada are associated with Boxing Day.
All Things Orange!
Another quandary that I muse over each festive season is the confusing situation regarding Tangerines! When is a Tangerine not a Tangerine but a Satsuma, a Clementine or a Mandarin??? All are little, round and orange but why all the different names. Let me enlighten you!
- They originate in the Far East and having been routed via Tangiers in North Africa took on the nick name of Tangerines.
- They are all part of the family of fruit known as Mandarins
- All are packed with our good friend vitamin C.
- Clementines and Satsumas are usually seedless
- Tangerines have seeds
- Tangerines are a pure breed of Mandarin
- Tangerines have the toughest skins
- Satsumas are the variety that are used in canned fruit
- Clementines have a tighter skin than the others
- Satsuma are the palest orange of the Mandarins
- Clementines are the sweetest of the bunch
- Satsumas can be grown in very low temperatures
- Satsumas are the easiest to peel
- Satsumas are fragile and will bruise easily
And I love all of them, always have done and I am sure I always will. Sweet Clementines are my real favourite though! What’s your favourite?
Pies, Cakes & Puddings!!
It has taken me many years to appreciate a mince pie. My younger self really did not like them and I still am not a fan of Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake. Now though, I am happy to down a few mince pies over the festive holidays. But why do we eat all things mixed fruit related at this time of year? Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies all started out as meat dishes.
Christmas Pudding can be traced back as early as the 14th century when Mutton, Beef were mixed with wine, raisins, prunes and spices. The pudding is traditionally made on the last Sunday of Advent. All the members of the family get a turn at stirring the mixture and making a wish. Symbols for a good life, luck, wealth and marriage can be added. Things like a silver coin for wealth and a ring for marriage are used. The holly that is usually placed on top of the pudding is said to represent the thorns of the crown on Jesus. Usually a pudding has brandy poured over it and is set alight during the serving. This is said to symbolise the passion of Jesus.
Christmas Cake started out life as a plum porridge that was eaten on twelfth night. Over many many years the oatmeal in the porridge was replaced with eggs, butter and flour forming what we now know as cake. Over time celebrations moved from twelfth night to Christmas Day and so cake is now a Christmas Day tradition.
Mince Pies can trace their origins right back to the 11th century when the crusaders brought back spices that were added to the pies that again started out life with meat as the main ingredients. Originally the pies were oval or rectangle shaped to represent the shape of the crib Jesus. Mince pies were a particular favourite of Henry V who had them at his coronation in 1413. Modern day mince pies are now much sweeter and smaller than the originals.
On my Shopping Time page this week you will find fab ideas for decorating your festive table so your Cake, Puddings and Pies will look even better!
As we all become more global, travel more, have friends and family who move many thousands of miles away to new countries and continents it would be amazing to be able to wish them a Happy Christmas in the language of their country. Here are just a few to help you out –
- Hawaiian – Mele Kalikimaka
- Greek – Kala Christouyenna
- Italian – Buon Natale
- Japanese – Meri Kurisumasu (or ‘Meri Kuri’ for short!)
- Spanish – Feliz Navidad
- Thai – Suk sarn warn Christmas
- Welsh – Nadolig Llawen
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas!