Monday, December 30, 2019

Happy New Year and Happy Hogmanay, or Scottish New Year!

Happy New Year my friends!

In England and other areas of the UK, Hogmanay is celebrated as the New Year's tradition, especially in Scotland where the celebrations last for 3 days.

 It is not known exactly where the word comes from, although it is believed to come from the French word 'hoginane' meaning 'gala day'. It is thought to have first been used widely following Mary, Queen of Scots' return to Scotland from France in 1561. 
And when Oliver Cromwell outlawed Christmas for fear of idolatry in the 1650s, Hogmanay gained popularity.

 Hogmanay has some fun customs... and First Footing is one.

 First Footing plays an important part. The First Footer refers to the first person who crosses the threshold of your house after midnight and "seals yer fate" for the coming year. The First Footer should be a tall, dark and handsome man with a "dainty foot". Until the First Footer came in the front door after midnight, no one should enter or leave. The First Footer would knock, be asked to enter and do so with gifts in his pockets which have regional variations. :

The usual in my family's tradition was bread or sometimes salt, coal, coins and matches. In Scotland the bread is shortbread and also included...what else? Whiskey! The First Footer then backs out of the he won't take his good luck with him. Then the door (and the party) is free for all! 

The coal means your hearth won't grow cold, your bread is enough food, the coins insure prosperity and the matches, light.

First Footers who met the criteria, were in great demand and could make good money going from house to house by appointment, and earn enough to live on for months. 

 And, as all over, the singing of Burn's great song Auld Lang Syne

Another Hogmany treat is Black Bun... and this great photo and article in The Herald:

'Serving a slice of black bun with a generous dram to first-footers on Hogmanay is traditional in Scotland':

So who will be first through your door??? I know who will be first in our home, as He will never have left! 

A Happy New Year to you all and may 2020 be a year of health, prosperity, peace and happiness in our home and in yours!

Time Was Antiques 15% OFF with code SANTAFORGOT continues through January 3rd!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Boxing Day, Giving, Hunts And Shopping

Happy Boxing Day!

For those who aren't familiar with the British term, Boxing Day has no pugilistic connotations but refers to the weekday following Christmas Day when the alms or "poor" offering boxes were opened and distributed to the needy.

Boxing Day gift giving began in the middle ages but was revived by Queen Victoria. After all the feasting of Christmas, the leftovers were distributed to the poor as well as monetary gifts. 

It was also a time to give gifts to the employees of the great houses and for the tradesmen that had served through the year. Gifts were given to postmen, delivery people, purveyors and shop keepers as well as any employees in your home or estate.

Boxing Day also includes lots of other opportunites that are more active...from after Christmas sales... the photo below was taken outside Harrods for the Boxing Day sale... and included a red carpet and refreshments being served to those waiting in line to enter with strict capacity controlled at any time.

 to fox hunting, which is a famous activity for Boxing Day, although not without controversy.... 

 Boxing Day hunt postcard... 1910 Bicester

I found a great video of a 2007 fox hunt on You Tube which I have added at the end of the post.

Adams Hunt Scene Plate 1960s English Country House Hunting Dogs Horses Ironstone 9.75 Inch

Hunting scenes have always been a popular theme on English country house decor...

Horse Brass England Tally Ho Hunter 1920s Harness Brass Pub Brass

And hunting horse brasses are always popular....
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your boxing Day. Here is the the wonderful Christmas message video from the BBC from Queen Elizabeth II.

And starts today...


Four Shires Bloodhounds Boxing Day Meet 2007

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Greetings

Wishing you a Merry Christmas or Happy Christmas...
with a heartfelt Celtic blessing!

Adding this wonderful Christmas card from the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent... 

And an outstanding gingerbread creation of Covent Garden, London by The Biscuiteers... brilliant!  


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Happy Winter Solstice, A Thomasing, Mumping Traditions

Today, December 21st, is the Winter Solstice...the shortest day of the year, and the longest night of the year.
Am so glad we will now be turning towards more daylight.
Photo above of Stonehenge....

And today, December 21st is also St. Thomas' day in the liturgical calendar, which has a tradition... mostly faded away... of "A-Thomasing" or "Mumping" in rural agricultural areas. St. Thomas was said to be especially generous to the poor and today is his saints day.

Thomasing, also called Gooding and Mumping, involved the less fortunate folks in a rural community visiting the better off and being given goods and gifts to celebrate a good Christmas. Although in some areas, only older women and widows participated, in some areas it was more general. 
 The mumping for widows meant they visited the better off with 2 handled pots to received cooked grain to make a pudding, and received other foods.
In many areas they were also treated to a cup of tea and treats before they left the home.

One of the derivations of the various Saxon and Norman words used brings us Wassailing, which you probably have heard of, if not Thomasing.

The day is supposed to have been accompanied by carol singing house to house, and many still use December 21st in England as the day to begin caroling around towns and villages

Some of the recorded chants in various villages and counties around England...

In Dorset it was called Christmasing and a note made in Notes and Queries from 1872 records they would ask:

“Please give me something to keep up Christmas or keeping up o’Christmas"

Palmer (2003) in his work on Worcestershire tells us that:

“wives, mothers, and children of all those who worked on the Beckford Estate were expected to call on Mr. King-Ross at Beckford Hall to be given a six penny piece each which was solemnly produced from a leather bag. The recipients, some 40 in number, then went round the back to be given a steaming hot cup of hot coffee and plenty of bread, spread thickly with lovely farm butter."

In Lincolnshire Ethel Rudkin in Lincolnshire folklore records:

“The women of Hemswell used to join together and go around ‘mumping’ to the various houses on St. Thomas’s Day-women who were ashamed to beg – but it was not looked on as begging, but as their due. They were given goods in kind.”

Sutton in her Lincolnshire Calendar notes that in Connisby in 1914:

“Old women would come mumping and mother would give them homemade cakes, half a cake or a whole one sometimes.. They came very early, I was still in bed, before 7 o’clock. They used to sing ‘Here we come a mumping..”

Whilst commonly old women, particularly widows were central to the custom, the men at the time were probably working, a contributor to Fenland Notes and Queries said:

“old men and old women and even young women pass from house to house begging for alms.”

.A common rhyme was:

“Bud well, bear well, God send spare well, A bushel of apples to give on St. Thomas’s morning”

In Staffordshire a local author notes:
“In the days of the Georges, when red cloaks were commonly worn by the beldames of every parish, it was a usual sight to see, in the grey light of a December, groups of figures bent and withered, going from door to door, wrapped in these curious garments and hear them piping ‘in a childish treble voice; the following rhyme:
“Well a day, well a day, St Thomas goes too soon away, the yiyr goodinf we do pray, For the good time will not stay, St Thomas grey, the longest night and shortest day, please remember St. Thomas’s Day.”

Palmer (1976) notes in Warwickshire the rhyme would go:

“A Christmas gambol oft can cheer, The Poor man’s heart through the year.”

Another Warwickshire chant went:
“Little Cock Robin sat on a wall, We wish you a merry Christmas, and a great snowfall, apples to eat and nuts to crack, we wish you a merry Christmas, with a rap, tap, tap.”
This is the chant my husband remembers from growing up in Warwickshire, and has always been a part of our family from Leicester, a large city didn't participate in Thomasing...

In Mansfield they said the following:
Hip-Hip hurray, Saint Thomas’ Day Fetch a bit, And leave a bit, Hip-Hip hurray.”
The food varied in Dorset they:
“Receive substantial pieces or ‘hunks or bread and cheese, bread and meat, or small sums of money.”

The above quotes from different areas are taken from:

Mumping continued into a tradition of fund raising for charities in the 20th century... often by bands and choirs, merging with caroling and wassailing, with the occasional mummers mixed in.
But always fun!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Happy Birthday Jane Austen December 16, 1775

Happy Birthday to my favourite author... Jane Austen
born December 16, 1775.

A great Jane Austen cake from

Although she had some success in life, although originally know as only By A Lady as it was considered too forward for a woman to be a published author and quite scandalous.

I don't think there are many writers whose novels have been published in so many versions, made into as many plays than Jane Austen

My favourite film version is the 1995 one above with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. The Keiea Knightley versions has too many historical errors to be my favourite. Jane appearing at the Netherfiekd ball with no golves is a glaring error that would have ruined her socially!

I very much liked this version of Sense and Sensibilty with a wonderful cast.

I have a toss up decision between the Persuasion version with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds...

or Sally Hawkins and Eupert Penry-Jones... 

Oh welll... I had better watch them again!

And so many Jane Austen spin offs... Peide and Prejudice and Zombies? Vampires? Yep!

And an annual Christmas read for me on my kindle...
Jane and the Twelve Days Of Cheistmas by Stephanie Barron... with Jane Austen as Regency sleuth... great fun, and historically well done!

So Happy Birthday Jane! And for the many gifts of joy you gave us in your writings!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Happy St. Nicholas Day, 2019

And a happy St. Nicholas Day! December 6th is the name day or birthday of the saint said to be the source of our Saint Nick and therefore Santa Claus. 

Born in the 3rd century, Nicholas spent his life giving away his inherited wealth to help those in need... and the gift giving tradition continues today...although Saint Nicholas gave year round, not just at Christmas...good idea, huh???

And wishing you a happy Christmas season with snow, carolers and all good things!

English Ironstone Tablewares... or EIT Carolers plate from the 1980s

Sunday, December 1, 2019

December and Memorable Days

November 30th was St. Andrew's Day...
Saint Andrew's Day is the feast day of Andrew the Apostle. It is celebrated on 30 November, which this year was on a Saturday. Saint Andrew's Day is Scotland's official national day, and Monday is a Bank Holiday Monday.... so we can all celebrate Scotland.

Transferware Plate Royal Warwick Blue Loch Otch 10 Inch England Ironstone 1940s

This is a great vintage transferware plate in the Royal Warwick, England Lochs Of Scotland series in the Loch Otch pattern from the 1940s. A great Scottish vista with thistles in the border! 

 Next up...

December 1st was today, but I am sure I won't be the first to say to you... in the English tradition...
"white rabbits, white rabbits" 
in the belief that good luck will be guaranteed for the month.
Although the superstition has been around for a long time, it was first recorded in a folklore book in 1909 apparently...
I loved trying to beat my English Nana to it every month...

The artwork above... the white rabbit of Alice In Wonderland, of course... 
is by Jacob Kuch.

So Enjoy your December... things will get hectic soon for the holidays!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Stir Up Sunday! Time To Start The Christmas Pudding!

Happy Stir Up Sunday!

Traditionally the day when good housewives...or their cooks... stirred up the dish that would become Christmas Pudding on that festive day coming soon!

The tradition dates... as best as can be seen... from the 14th century. There are traditionally supposed to be 13 ingredients... 1 each for Jesus and the 12 disciples.

Stir Up Sunday refers to the traditional day to start it... the first Sunday before Advent, or the coming of Christ's birth begins.

The  collect for the Sunday before Advent in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer begins with the words 
"Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works...". 
This led to the custom of preparing Christmas puddings on that day which became known as Stir Up Sunday.

 The tradition is that for good look in the coming year to fall on the family, every member had to take their turn stirring, and make a wish...

There also developed in the early Victorian era the mixing in of small silver fortune telling tokens in the wealthier families, or a sixpence or two in the more simple puddings. 

The sixpence or threepence for luck or wealth
a wishbone for a granted wish
a boot for travel
a thimble either for thrift or for spinsterhood if recipient was an unmarried lady
an anchor for a safe voyage or safe harbor
a bell for married in the year
horseshoe for luck
and several others that vary by region.
Whatever, you always have to be careful eating, so no teeth are broken.
Sets are handed down in the family. As my husband was a 4th child and a boy to boot, the oldest sister got them, and they are now with their oldest daughter.
My family also passed them to an oldest daughter,  but they were lost about 30 years ago. Sigh...

There is a bit of a debate between calling this steamed pudding or plum pudding...some say the same, just varied by ingredients, some staunch if favor of one or the other...
But all agreed it is dense, full of fruit and steamed.
Also debated, is whether it should be topped with brandy sauce, hard sauce or brandy butter... and whether to be flaming or no...
how nice to have choices! 
I was brought up brandy butter sauce...

Here are several great websites and recipes 

From Downton Abbey Cooks:

From The National Trust:

From BBC Food:

 Greeting card featuring a Christmas pudding with a face... from 1880. British Library

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