Several accounts are told of the sounds of a battle raging at sea between excise men and smugglers off the coast of Whitby. Loud bangs and screams of torment are heard but only by a few.
These were a variation of the usual auction where the highest bid wins. A nail or pin was placed in the candle near to the bottom, then it was set alight. The auction continued, the person making a bid when the melted wax allowed the nail to drop out of the candle won the bid! Such events were well know in16th and 17th century England and are mentioned in the House of Lords records and in Samuel Pepys diaries.
In 1662 the Admiralty auctioned 2 ships via 'auction by 'inch of candle.'
Occasionally such auctions are still held today. On December the 13th in 2010 Aldermarston Parish Church in Berkshire auctioned the rental of a piece of land by this method.
In Lincolnshire at Old Bolingbroke the grazing rights to land known as 'Poor Folks Close' are also sold this way around the 21st of December.
It wasn’t until the 1870s that the country was introduced to the name 'Father Christmas.' Originally, Santa was called ‘Sinter Klaas.’
Charles Dickens promoted the idea of giving and charity during the festive period in his works ‘ the Christmas Tales’ which started in 1843 with the publication of ‘ A Christmas Carol .’
In 1880 Thomas Edison's electric Christmas Tree lights made the news.
Holidays for some included both Christmas Day and Boxing Day the 26th of December. Boxing Day was when the working people opened the boxes in which gifts of money had been collected.
The Christmas meal at this time could have included such delicacies as the ‘Christmas Pudding’ one recipe included from a book first published in the 1880’s contained a recipe which required ‘suet, currants ,raisins , sugar ,ten eggs ,grated nutmeg ,mixed spice ,grated ginger, bread crumbs ,flour ,milk ,brandy’ all required boiling in a cloth for six or seven hours.( Consult Me For All You Want to Know. New Edition 1883 p. 125.) The full recipe for this and other festive meals from this period are provided below. I cannot give a guarantee for these recipes as I can only just manage to boil an egg lol!
Perhaps our own idyll of what Christmas should be, really does come from this period. 'Snow falling on gas lit streets, carol singers, blazing log fires, plenty of festive spirit for those indoors, good food and good company.'
Christmas Pudding Recipe
Suet 1 and a half lbs, minced small; currants, 1 and a half lbs.; raisins, stoned, three quarters lbs.; sugar, 1 lb .; ten eggs, a grated nutmeg.; 2 ozs of mixed spice, a teaspoonful of grated ginger, half lb. Of bread crumbs, half a lb of flour, 1 pint of milk, and a wine-glassful of brandy. Beat first the eggs, add half the milk, beat altogether, and gradually stir in all the milk, then the suet, fruit , & c., and as much milk to mix it very thick. Boil in a cloth six or seven hours.
ANYONE FOR MORE PUDDING?
Flour, suet, currants, raisins, of each 1 lb.; nine eggs; 2 ozs. Of candied peel; almonds and spices, according to taste. Boil in a cloth.
A good-sized turkey should be roasted two hours and a half, or three hours - very slowly at first.
TURKEY, to Carve. - A turkey roasted or boiled is trussed and sent to the table like a fowl, and cut up like a pheasant. The best parts are the white ones, the breast, wings, and neck bones. The neck is taken away, and the hollow part under the breast stuffed with forcemeat, which is to be cut into thin slices, from the rump to the neck, and a slice given with each piece of Turkey.
FORCEMEAT.- Take a pound of fresh lean veal, and the same weight of beef suet, and a bit of bacon or ham; shred all together; beat it in a mortar very fine; then season it with sweet herbs, pepper, salt, cloves, mace’ and nutmegs; add the yolks of two or three eggs well beaten. A few oysters may be added; or marrow, if the forcemeat is intended to be rich. This may be made into balls about the size of a walnut .
The Halcyon Days are thought to start on either the 11th, 14th or 15th of December and continue for 14 days.
The word originally meant peaceful,calm days. It also referred to a mythical bird. A Greek legend declared that the bird had the power to calm the sea whilst it built a floating nest on the Agean sea. The bird was named after the daughter of Aeolus (the god of the wind.) In despair following the death of her husband she threw herself into the sea. Instead of drowning she was transformed into the halcyon bird.
A poem which portrays this story begins:
'In the cliffe of a pond of occean.....'
Halcyon also means Kingfisher in Greek.
Today the word tends to mean the endless sun filled days of our youth.
This is just one of the folklore stories from the nooks and crannies of the coast and beyond which inspired our posters. To discover more about these posters please click here.
Shortest day and
Longest night '
December 13th is St. Lucy's Day.
Some believed that this was the longest night of the year.
In an attempt to predict if it will be a White Christmas folklore stated
'If the snow falls on Saint Lucy's Day, Christmas will be clear and sunny.'