Richard Box, painter, embroiderer and lecturer, gave an illustrated lecture on ‘Christmas Customs & Traditions’.
St. Nicholas, a 4th Century bishop from Myra, in present day Turkey, was wealthy and liked to give secret presents to those in need, including dowries in stockings. Santa’s reindeer were first named in an 1823 poem, while the first Christmas tree in the UK was organised by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. The celebration on Christmas Day dates back to the birth of Mithras in pagan times.
Holly and ivy were used in pre-Christian times to celebrate the continuation of life. For Christians, holly represented the Crown of Thorns and berries the blood shed. Mistletoe is associated with kissing. The Virgin’s ultramarine dress colour comes from very expensive crushed lapis lazuli dye. Wassail was a punch made from crushed apples, spices and wine. Pantomimes come from the 18th Century Italian Comedia Del Arte and the original characters became those we know today. Christmas puddings evolved from a 14th Century beef stew. Christmas cards date from 1843 and crackers from 1845.