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Newsletter - December 2011


Christmas celebrated!

Our Christmas social event went off extremely well and was much enjoyed; the committee worked hard to present delicious food and mulled wine to over 150 members and their guests and received lots of compliments, which were much appreciated.

This was followed by David Bostwick giving us a really entertaining talk about the Yuletide Customs and Traditions. He opened his lecture by showing us some cartoons about Christmas and the humour was very present from there on. We learned about the midwinter festival, the influence of Minerva and Mithras, Saturnalia, the Yule log and how it was lit from the kindling of the remains of the previous year’s log, and how the log encourages the sun to return after the darkest days of winter. The twelve days of Christmas were marked by mis-rule, cross-dressing, the mummers, and feasting – including the boar’s head. We heard about the beginning of traditions like hanging up stockings, sending presents and cards, and the custom of giving tips on Boxing Day. We need never confuse Santa Claus, who derives from St Nicholas the Bishop of Myra and first Christian martyr, with Father Christmas, the personification of winter, the original Green Man, who is a much more pagan figure. We were exhorted to decorate our rooms with garlands of real holly, ivy and mistletoe and hang apple bobs in our rooms. The evening generated a warm feeling about these old remembered rituals, enhanced perhaps by the effect of the mulled wine. Happy Christmas to you all.

St Nicholas resurrects the dead c 1490