Category: Christmas Watch

December 18th Christmas Day Getting Near

Our front garden Christmas lights this year, a skiing Santa

Our good friend and neighbour Mick gave us this novel 3ft (91 cm) high skiing Santa garden Christmas light. His daughter did not need it any more as she was moving from a house to a flat (apartment). We put Santa by our front door in the front garden area for passersby to see as he skies towards Christmas day.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town


Decor on Sale at John Lewis, Iphoto by JMorton

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Here comes Santa, photo by JMorton
It is December!
It is officially Christmas Season.
Give Love of Christmas.
It is the time to send Christmas cards to nearest and dearest, including to those often forgotten and overlooked relatives and acquaintances. 🙂
It is time to set up the Christmas Tree.
It is time to buy presents and gift, know your budget.
It is time to party.
It is the to visit the relatives.
And most important of all it is the time to celebrate a most spiritual Birthday of all.
Happy Birthday to our Lord, Jesus!

Panic Saturday


Apparently today is a Panic Saturday, when people are just too busy, almost to a stress level doing their shopping.

Last minute gift shopping, especially those let down my internet/online shopping.

I was scrabbling to shop for cakes from Iceland last night, but was advised that there are no more slots for delivery and to try after 27 December.  Eeeckkkk.  That’ll teach me to leave everything at the last moment.

Peter and I went to Chappel Market today and a bit disappointed that the place wasn’t really roaring with shoppers as it used to.  There were hardly anyone there.  And the market stalls were not as festive or as many.  Despite all of that we had fun and got everything in record time.

We even had time to do lunch at the Pie and Mash shop, really lovely.  We had beef and onion pie with mash, drowned in parsley liquour.  We finished off with some fruit pie, which was rhubarb.

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas

Christmas begins about the first of December with an office party and ends when you finally realise what you spent, around Apri fifteenth of the next year.
P.J. O’Rourke

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas

I don’t want to alarm you or add to your stress but Christmas is just around the corner.  Next week will be Christmas.

I hope you have bought all your presents, Wrapped all your gifts.  Sent Christmas cards to your nearest and dearest and to those not so nearest and dearest as well.  Give love on Christmas Day, I would say. 😉

Hope you have sorted that all important ‘what to wear’ on the Big Day.  Do let us have a photo of those Christmas jumpers!

Hope the recipe has been planned and the ingredients has been listed to precision and ready to order or collect/buy from the supermarket.  Don’t forget the kitchen foil or toothpicks to wrap cocktail sausages in bacon. Also the double cream, so essential.  Also the loo rolls, tablets for indigestion, and headache.  It happens!

Hope you remember all those things that  are essential for Christmas.  Remember most shops in the UK are  closed.  So make sure you have lots of batteries.  It would be such a horror to realise that the much look forward to present of your child can’t be played to its full potential because it was lacking a battery.  🙁

Take a deep breath, there are few more days to get everything done.  But I am afraid, the most useful thing to do if you are a last minute doer is to compile a list of ‘what to do’  Tick each item when done!


ecckkk Panic, panic!!!

Nativity Celebrated in Our Homes

It is 9pm here in London, Christmas Eve.

A friend will be arriving soon.

Later we will attend Midnight Mass at our local church and welcome Christmas Day and celebrate the birth of a very special Baby.

As well as putting up festive decorations around the home, many like our family set up models of the Nativity so that we remember the true meaning of Christmas time.  Yes Christmas is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem in a manger as there was no more room at the local inn.

Nativity Celebrated in Our Home

Nativity scene, photo by PH Morton

The Cost of Christmas

This is such an interesting article from the BBC Magazine.  It tells how Christmas became so commercialised.

It started during the reign of Queen Victoria when German Prince Albert, the Queen’s consort, brought Christmas celebration, Christmas tree and decoration to the British Monarchy.


The costs of Christmas past and Christmas present

By Sarah Treanor

Business reporter, BBC News

The Royal Christmas Tree is admired by Victoria, Albert and their children in 1848
The Royal Christmas Tree admired by Victoria, Albert and their children in 1848

Christmas as we know it in 2013, with its tear-jerking adverts on television, online shopping bonanza, and parade of “must-have” toys and gifts, may seem a very commercial and modern business.

However, many Christmas traditions that dominate the modern British home are not new at all.

From the bauble-bedecked tree, to the crackers, the presents and roast dinner, the “commercialisation” of Christmas has its roots firmly in mid-Victorian Britain.

But while for many Victorians, nuts and dried fruit would have been the typical presents hanging from the tree, this year UK households will spend around £22.3bn on Christmas and families will splash out a very large-sounding £599 each on gifts alone, according to a YouGov survey.

“Start Quote

Poverty and oysters always seem to go together”

Sam WellerCharacter from Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers

YouGov also found that the average planned spend on food and drink will be £180, and on cards, trees and decorations £43.

So what do we owe to the Victorians as we gear up for the big day, and how much did a Victorian household expect to spend on their festivities?

Show off with beef

Of course the cost of various things in Victorian Britain bears no relation to the modern day. Rent and fuel was very cheap by modern standards, and there was a vast difference in wages between labourers and the emerging middle and upper-middle classes.

But what is the same is that for the Victorian, Christmas food itself was a luxury item, much as it is now.

Food historian Dr Annie Gray says that the meat was very much the main event, and the type of meat on a Victorian table depended often on where in the country a family lived.

A Victorian card
This Victorian card shows a wealthy family digging into their Christmas roast

“The meat to show off with was beef,” she says.

‘Poor man’s protein’

For a less wealthy family, perhaps that of a junior clerk, earning as little as £100 a year in the mid-Victorian era, beef and turkey were far beyond even a special occasion budget.

More likely, if in London and the South of England, the family would start the meal with oysters. While considered a luxury for many now, oysters in Victorian London were known as “the poor man’s protein”.

Charles Dickens’s character from The Pickwick Papers, Sam Weller, even says, “Poverty and oysters always seem to go together.”

An illustration from Dickens's A Christmas Carol
An illustration from Dickens’s A Christmas Carol

The goose was also the meat centrepiece for a less well-off family where beef or turkey were beyond reach.

As the traditional British rhyme says:

“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat

“Please put a penny in the old man’s hat

“If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do

“If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!”

A week’s wages

The cost of a Victorian Christmas

  • Goose: 7 shillings
  • Pudding: 5 shillings
  • Sage, onions, oranges: 3 shillings
  • Christmas card: 1 shilling

Food, and indeed giving were in vogue from the 1840s.

Plum pudding, and mince pies were also fashionable at the Victorian Christmas table. Sweet chestnuts, Dr Gray adds, were used as “ice cream, set cream, in stuffing, or as an accompaniment” for the meal.

“A classic mid-Victorian meal was three to five courses, with four to eight dishes in each, set on the table all at once with diners choosing their favourite dishes.

“By the end, a more linear service style had come in, but the dish variety and order remained roughly the same,” she says.

How much might this have cost?

A copy of the first mass-produced Christmas card from 1843
A copy of the first mass-produced Christmas card from 1843

According to the 1844 play A Christmas Carol/The Miser’s Warning (a theatre adaptation by CZ Barnett of the Dickens novel) the character Bob Cratchit would have spent a week’s wages to buy the ingredients for the basic Christmas feast.

That would be seven shillings for the goose, five for the pudding, and three for the onions, sage and oranges.

So that’s the food. But what about the rest?

The first Christmas card – ‘a flop’

In 1843 the first commercially produced Christmas card was launched. It cost a shilling – an extremely high price at the time. (Incidentally, 1843 was also the year that Dickens published A Christmas Carol.)

Tim Travis, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where the original card produced by Sir Henry Cole is kept, says the one shilling Christmas card would have been “roughly a day’s wage for a labourer”. It was, he says a “commercial flop”.

“Christmas cards didn’t really take off for another 20 years or so after that when mass production brought the price down,” says Mr Travis.

A Victorian Christmas card
Christmas cards such as this one from the 1860s showed family scenes

But the practice of sending Christmas cards became affordable and fashionable for many and by 1880 over 11 million Christmas cards were printed. The introduction of penny postage meant that sending a card became the “done thing”, and cards often showed jolly images of families indulging in Christmas culinary delights.

Now the UK Christmas card market is still robust, and though it has fallen away in the past few years due to email, the Greetings Cards Association estimates that a total of around 900 million festive cards were sold in 2012, worth around £364m.

‘Delight in the tree’

Many of our modern traditions and expenses were brought over from Germany by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert.

A woman dragging a fir tree over a field
A fir tree became a must-have in a Victorian household

In 1848 a print showing the royal couple with their children next to a fir tree was published in the Illustrated London News. The Prince had written in 1847 that his children should “delight in the Christmas tree”.

The tree became the must-have item in any fashionable festive home, and still is. Around six million live fir trees are sold for Christmas in Britain, according to the Forestry Commission.

A bang!

Crackers were invented by Tom Smith in 1847.

The London sweetmaker originally planned to wrap sweets in coloured paper, inspired by trips to Paris where he saw such treats. But another version, with mottos, hats and toys proved much more popular, and the cracker as we know it was born.

Today, British cracker making company Swantex produces 25 million a year. Some estimate that each household in the UK will spend upwards of £20 on crackers at Christmas.

A lot to thank the Victorians for, and perhaps, when looking at New Year bank balances, to lament.

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