Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Regency Christmas Traditions’ Category

This illustration was made over 80 years after Jane Austen died, but there’s a “Regency feeling” about the dresses, hairstyles, and interior. Read more about Christmas of old in these links, and in the post below.

Read Full Post »

“Who you callin’ a silly bub, and what’s that you’re offering me?”– Mentioned on three occasions in Samuel Pepys’ diary — in 1662, 1663 and 1668

When we think of Christmases past, including the traditions and foods that Jane Austen and her kin would have enjoyed, we think of yule logs, kissing boughs, and festive drinks, such as apple toddy, milk punch, and syllabub, a less potent alcoholic and cream mixture than eggnog.

Over time, the precise recipes have changed. According to British Culture, British Customs, and British Traditions, “In the seventeenth century, a milkmaid would send a stream of new, warm milk directly from a cow into a bowl of spiced cider or ale. A light curd would form on top with a lovely whey underneath. This, according to Elizabeth David, was the original syllabub. Today’s syllabub is more solid (its origins can also be traced to the seventeenth century, albeit to the upper classes) and mixes sherry and/or brandy, sugar, lemon, nutmeg, and double cream into a custard-like dessert or an eggnog-like beverage, depending upon the cook.”

“In the hour or two that the syllabub was set aside, a curd formed over the ale. With the possible addition of a layer of cream on top, the syllabub was ready to drink. The solids that formed on top of a syllabub were eaten with a spoon, the wine at the bottom drunk.”* Historic Food offers another detailed account of the history and making of this fascinating drink. I’ve also found a stanza from a traditional song that includes drinking syllabub under a cow, which sits below.

You hawk, you hunt, you lie upon pallets,
You eat, you drink (the Lord knows how !);We sit upon hillocks, and pick up our sallets, And drink up a syllabub under a cow.

With a fading.

In The Universal Cook: And City and Country Housekeeper, John Francis Collingwood and John Woollams, the Principal Cooks at The Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand in the late 18th century, offer precisely such a recipe for syllabub. One supposes that these instructions might be difficult to follow today except for the most determined country person:

A Syllabub Under a Cow

Having put a bottle of red or white wine, ale or cyder, into a China bowl, sweeten it with sugar, and grate in some nutmeg. Then hold it under the cow, and milk into it until it has a fine froth on the top. Strew over it a handful of currants cleaned, washed, and picked, and plumbed before the fire.

Over half a century later, Mrs. Beeton includes this syllabub recipe in her historic and groundbreaking cookery and household management book:

To Make Syllabub

900ml (1½ pints) Milk
600ml (1 pint) Sherry or White Wine
½ Grated Nutmeg
Sugar, to taste

Put the wine into a bowl, with the grated nutmeg and plenty of caster sugar add the milk and whisk.
Clotted cream may be laid on the top, with ground cinnamon or nutmeg and sugar.
A little brandy may be added to the wine before the milk is put in.
In some counties, cider is substituted for the wine, when this is used, brandy must always be added.
Warm milk may be poured on from a spouted jug or teapot, but it must be held very high.

Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons.
Seasonable at any time.

Find more information about syllabub in these links:

Click here for my other holiday posts.

Image from Historic Foods

Technorati Tags: , ,

Read Full Post »

The Jane Austen Centre already offers a comprehensive article on Christmas music in the Origins of Regency Era Christmas Carols in their Online Magazine, which I cannot add to in a meaningful way, and which includes a lovelingly told history of ‘Silent Night.’

After reading the article, view a YouTube video of Gloucestershire Morris men dancing a traditional stick dance to the tune of While Shepherds Watched, one of the carols described in the article.

While Bledington, where this dance originated, is situated in the Cotswolds, one is quickly transported to the 18th and 19th centuries when viewing this dance and listening to the music. I believe the musical instrument accompanying this dance is the harmonium (thank you for the tip, Pixzlee). Historically, the pipe and tabor accompanied this dance, while later in the 19th century, the fiddler replaced the pipe and tabor musician.

Pipe and Tabor


Read Full Post »

This story was commissioned to appear in the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper on December 27th 2004 as part of a tradition of short stories during Christmas week. – Jo Beverly. Click here to read it.

Under the Kissing Bough

Sweet emblem of returning peace, the heart’s full gush and love’s release,
Spirits in human fondness flow and greet the pearly mistletoe.
Oh! Happy tricksome time of mirth, giv’n to the stars of sky and earth!
May all the best of feeling know, the custom of the mistletoe.
Married and single, proud and free, yield to the season, trim with glee:
Time will not stay … he cheats us so … A kiss? … ’tis gone … the mistletoe.

The poem above was written in December, 1826, and last line refers to the custom of plucking a berry every time a kiss was stolen beneath the kissing bough. Once the berries were gone, the kissing was over. – All About Mistletoe

A number of free Holiday Stories and E-Texts can be found at this link: Christmas Potpouri

Bringing Home the Boughs

To learn more about holiday traditions with mistletoe, or the kissing bough, visit the links below:

Read Full Post »

Wassailing goes back to pre-Christian times in a tradition meant to bring luck for the coming year. Wassail gets its name from the Old English term “waes hael”, meaning “be well”. At the start of each year, the Saxon lord of the manor would shout ‘waes hael’. The assembled crowd would reply ‘drinc hael’, meaning ‘drink and be healthy’. In cider producing regions, the wassailers went from door to door, with a wassail bowl filled with spiced ale, and sang and drank to the health of those they visited. In return people in the houses gave them drink, money and Christmas food. Traditionally Wassailing was held on Old ‘Twelvy’ Night, before the Georgian Calendar aligned the calendar year to the solar year. The true date for Wassailing, therefore, was the 17th of January.

Listen to a traditional wassailing song on this YouTube link.

In cider producing regions, the tradition varied, and was known as the wassailing of trees:

…it was the custom for the Devonshire people on the eve of Twelfth Day to go after supper into the orchard with a large milk-pan full of cyder with roasted apples in it. Each person took what was called a clayen cup, i.e. an earthenware cup full of cyder, and standing under each of the more fruitful trees, sung —

“Health to thee, good apple-tree,
Well to bear, pocket-fulls, hat-fulls,
Peck-fulls, bushel-bag-fulls.”

After drinking part of the contents of the cup, he threw the rest, with the fragments of the roasted apples, at the trees, amid the shouting of the company. Another song sung on such occasions was

“Here’s to thee, old apple-tree,
Whence thou may’st bud, and whence thou may’st blow,
And whence thou may’st bear apples enow
Hats full! caps full!
Bushel-bushel-sacks full,
And my pockets full, too, huzza!”

From Wassailing

Update: Tim writes: Wassailing refers to the practice of both door-to-door carol-singing on Christmas Eve and the apple wassailing on Old Twelth Night. The naming comes from the common imbibing of the wassail. Both traditions co-exist and the carolling occurs not just in cider-growing areas.

Thanks for the information, Tim. I should have been clearer about the distinction between the two traditions at the start of this post. These days wassailing does mean carolling, but it did not always have this connotation.

Wassail Bowl
La Belle Cuisine, Recipe from the Gourmet Archives

4 cups apple cider
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark rum
1/4 cup brandy
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt to taste
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
Whipped cream
Freshly grated nutmeg

In a saucepan bring the apple cider to a boil over medium heat, add
the brown sugar and cook mixture, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove pan from heat and add the rum, brandy, orange liqueur,
cinnamon, cloves, allspice, salt, and fruit slices. Heat mixture over
moderate heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Pour the wassail into wine glasses
and top it with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg.

View my other holiday posts: A Jane Austen Christmas, Yule Log, New Year’s Eve, Boxing Day, Christmas Pudding, etc. here.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: