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A Georgian Christmas


Georgian Christmas
In the Georgian period there was
some traditions that included the
Christmas tree, the traditional food
,for example the Christmas pudding
and the mince pie, wassail bowl, the
twelfth night, the Yule Log, The
Kissing Bough or Ball all of this being
the most representative Christmas
tradition for the Georgian period.

Popularity of Christmas
To start, Christmas wasnt celebrated in the cities as
much as it was in the country. Not until the advent of
Dickens A Christmas Carol (1843) did Christmas
become popular in London. In country homes where
Christmas was celebrated, decorations went up on
Christmas Eve and might stay up until Epiphany
(January 6). Depending on the part of England, you
might use evergreen boughs, holly, ivy, rosemary,
and Christmas Rose. You might also use mistletoe,
although it grows mostly in the western and
southwestern parts of Britain. Our traditional
mistletoe in the doorway would more likely have
been a kissing bough--a hanging structure of
evergreens, apples, paper flowers, and dolls
representing Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.


Christmas Trees
Christmas trees are often thought to
have been introduced by Prince Albert
in the 1840s. In fact, the idea has been
around much longer, originating from
pagan festivals when the qualities of
greenery and light were in demand
during mid-winter. Earlier Christmas
trees (pre-1840s) were much smaller
than today and stood on a table


Christmas Pudding
Christmas Pudding or plum pudding is eaten at the end of
the Christmas dinner. Christmas pudding originates from
a 14th century porridge called frumenty that was made
of mutton and beef with currants, prunes, spices and
wine. By the late 1500s it slowly changed into a plum
pudding as cooks added breadcrumbs, suet and eggs to
bind and thicken it. To give it more flavour, they also
added beer or spirits. Plum pudding became the
customary Christmas dessert around 1650, but in 1664
the Puritans banned it, citing it as a lewd custom and
describing its rich ingredients as unfit for God-fearing
people. In 1714, King George I re-established it as part of
the Christmas meal and by Victorian times, Christmas
Puddings had changed into something similar to the ones
that are eaten today.
This is the 1714 recipe for King George Is 9lb (!)
Christmas pudding -


Other Traditional Plates

Mince Pies were not as we know them
today they were originally filled with
chicken eggs, sugar, raisins, lemons
and oranges.
Wassail bowl :This was similar to
mulled wine and was made of the
Richest and raciest wines, highly
spiced and sweetened, with roasting
apples bobbing on the surface

Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night marked the end of the festive season and was
the highlight of the Christmas celebrations in Georgian
The Twelfth Night ball was one of the grandest of the year
and sometimes took the form of a masquerade or fancy
dress ball.
The popular custom of choosing a household king or queen
on Twelfth Night involved baking a centrepiece Twelfth cake
containing a dried bean and a dried pea. The man who
found the bean in his slice was elected King for the night;
the lady who found the pea, the Queen. Even if they were
normally servants, their temporarily exalted position was
acknowledged by everyone, including their masters. By the
early 19th century, the cake had become very elaborate,
with sugar frosting and gilded paper trimmings, often
decorated with delicate figures made of plaster of Paris or
sugar paste.

The Yule Log

The Yule log was chosen on
Christmas Eve. It was wrapped round
in hazel twigs and dragged home, to
burn in the fireplace for the 12 days
of Christmas. A piece of the Yule Log
was saved to light the following
years Yule Log.


The Kissing Bough or Ball

The tradition of
kissing under a
bunch of foliage is
centuries old. By the
late 18th century,
kissing boughs and
balls were common.
They were usually
made of holly, ivy
and rosemary, with
mistletoe hanging
underneath. Spices,
apples, oranges, oat
ears, wax dolls,
candles or ribbons
could also be

Christmas Day
Christmas Day might start with a trip to church,
followed by a lavish dinner of boars head,
which was really the head of a pig, as wild
boars became extinct in England approximately
1185. You might also have turkey (which had
been brought to England from the New World in
1550), along with plum pudding, march pane
(what we often call marzipan), and
gingerbread. Christmas Day was also the day
on which a gift or tithe was given to the
landowner. Note, however, it was not a
widespread tradition to give each other gifts.
Again, period diaries indicate it was more
common to give a new toy to the children in
the family than for the adults to exchange gifts.

A Georgean House

The Day after Christmas

The day after Christmas was Boxing
Day, on which you gave presents or
boxes to those who had given you
good service during the previous
year. It was also a traditional day for
fox hunting.