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Yule Love Our Four Facts about Popular Christmas Traditions

Yule Love Our Four Facts about Popular Christmas Traditions

In this two-minute read,we trace the origins of some of the sights, sounds, and smells
of Christmas.

Christmas is a time of mistletoe and mulled wine,
twinkly trees, and messages from the monarch.

And in Mid Kent it seems like many
people can’t wait for the festive break.

So, let’s explore the history behind the enduring Christmas
customsmany of us enjoy.

Why do we decorate Christmas trees?

In Pagan times, evergreens were placed in the home
to ward off evil spirits and to remind people during the depths of winter that
spring would return.

By the 16th century, devout Christians in Germany,
who believed evergreen trees symbolised everlasting life, had taken things a
step further. They decorated evergreen conifers with apples, paper roses, and
candles (which they then lit) creating an incredible spectacle – and a terrible
fire hazard.

King George III and his German wife Charlotte were
among the first to adopt the Christmas tree tradition in England, and it was
later popularised by Queen Victoria and her German-born husband, Albert.

Mulled wine

The Romans get the credit for introducing this
tipple to Europe in the 2nd century. They heated their wine to ward off the
cold and added spices (to promote good health) and natural sweeteners (because
the wine tasted awful).

Later, other countries devised their own variations.
The Germans guzzled glühwein, the Swedes gluggedglögg, and the Brits got through the Great Plague by knocking back
“mulled sack”, which was safer to drink than the water.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that mulled wine became
synonymous with Christmas. Charles Dickens mentions it his novel A Christmas
. The Victorian author namechecks Smoking Bishop, a mix of red
wine, port, oranges, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. We’ll drink to that, Tiny

Mistletoe mystery

Historians are still not sure exactly how this
tradition got started. What they do know is that the Greeks, Romans, and Druids
all prized mistletoe as a source of healing, vitality, and fertility.

The plant is also associated with Frigg, the Norse
goddess of motherhood and fertility, whose son was killed by an arrow made from
mistletoe (doesn’t sound very Christmassy to us).

While this is all rather interesting, it doesn’t
explain why servants in Britain began to “kiss under the mistletoe” sometime
between 1720 and 1784. Perhaps someone below stairs got a bit lairy after one
too many pints of mulled sack.

Royal message

We all know the Royal Christmas Broadcast as the
Queen’s Speech, but originally it was the King’s Speech. George V delivered the
first Royal Broadcast on Christmas Day in 1932.

Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather gave his radio
address from a small office in Sandringham at 3pm, as this was the best time
for reaching most of the countries in the Empire by shortwave.

The Queen delivered her first Christmas message in
1952 and her first televised message in 1957. She’ll deliver her 68th
Christmas message this year.

We’ll be sharing our Christmas and New Year opening
hours with you soon.

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