Monday, December 16, 2013

Contrasting Christmases – Old and New

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Contrasting Christmases – Old and New
This time of year is treacherous for people following a diet. In our house specially that is true. I am married to an absolutely wonderful cook that is at her best when Christmas time comes along.  The smells in our house are amazing over these past few days. MmmMMMmmmM!
I watched a TV program last night that was showing what the folks did in Victorian England for their Christmas celebrating.  Very interesting.
I learned that “wassailing” would have you singing to trees or cows.
Wikipedia states – quote – “The tradition of wassailing (alt sp wasselling) falls into two distinct categories: The House-Visiting wassail and the Orchard-Visiting wassail. The House-Visiting wassail, caroling by another name, is the practice of people going door-to-door singing Christmas carols. The Orchard-Visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.”
Not only did they “wassail” their trees in the Orchard they also “wassailed” their cattle and livestock in the barns. The idea was kind of like a blessing.
In the rural farming areas where the farmers worked hard to provide for his family it was important that everything was blessed and working well.
In our family we have enjoyed “mincemeat” pies – which is a mixture of raisins and currants along with fruity flavoured filling in a light pastry.
However this pie was originally a different kind of “mincemeat”. The different kind included Turkey or Goose, Chicken, Pheasant and Pigeon plus other birds.  These are all wrapped together in a special baking pan.  Bake it and then cool it and eat later.
But again a Google search suggested the following – Yorkshire Christmas Pie – quote “First, bone a turkey, a goose, a brace of young pheasants, four partridges, four woodcocks, a dozen snipes, four grouse, and four widgeons; then boil and trim a small York ham and two tongues. Season and garnish the inside of the fore-named game and poultry, as directed in the foregoing case, with long fillets of fat bacon and tongue, and French truffles; each must be carefully sewn up with a needle and small twine, so as to prevent the force-meat from escaping while they are being baked. When the whole of these are ready, line two round or oval braizing-pans with thin layers of fat bacon, and after the birds have been arranged therein in neat order, and covered in with layers of bacon and buttered paper, put the lids on, and set them in the oven to bake rather slowly, for about four hours: then withdraw them, and allow them to cool.”
That is the ancestor of “Mincemeat” tarts and pie. Hmmm?
It was interesting to hear how they fed the animals more food on Christmas day… mainly because by supper time they might well have been stuffed full and maybe a little drunk – not able to go out and do the chores in the barn – feed and water the animals….
Christmas has certainly changed.  Foods – gifts – traditions and the whole thing is much more – much more!
I like what I have now.
Oh… BTW… in order to get the coloured ribbons and other coloured cloth… different plants and roots were used to colour the item. But in order to make the colour fast – to set the colour they added “stale urine”.  Yuk!
Today’s Christmas is okay by me.
~ Murray Lincoln ~
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