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Stonehenge MidWinter Solstice


Have you ever wondered where Christmas originated and how it came to be in the form that we celebrate today? A look back at history and the origins of where this all started takes back to prehistoric times and pagan rituals!

Celebrations to honour the Midwinter Solstice started thousands of years ago when animals were driven hundreds of miles to sites such as Stonehenge. In the Neolithic period as well as the feasting which carried on for a number of days, presents were exchanged such as bronze daggers and even gold necklaces, hair decorations and buttons. Songs were sung and fires lit to honour the Solstice.

The Romans feasting was to honour Saturn, the chief of the Roman gods. Saturnalia started on 17th December and was a time of great public feasting followed by celebrations at home. It was the time of the year when slaves and masters changed places and slaves enjoyed a day of relative freedom. They were able to criticise their masters, gamble, wear bright clothes and were given time off. Food tended to be rich and varied with figs, dates, pine neuts, snails, fattened dormice and garum (a strong sauce made of fermented fish). Imported wine often accompanied the feasting.

The Medieval period saw a period of fasting until 24th December after which time the feasting was prolific. The twelve days of Christmas came to be and 6th January was when presents were exchanged. It was 1038 when the first recorded ‘Christ’s Mass’ was recorded celebrating the birth of Jesus. Traditions from Roman times were carried on and servants and masters exchanged places, gifts were given and customs adhered to from the pagan Saxon midwinter feast of Yule. Traditionally the Yule Log was kept burning for all twelve days, houses were decorated with evergreens, richly decorated boars’ heads were eaten and festivities were boisterous!

Tudor times carried on the Medieval traditions but were even more full on. Plays were performed such as Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Some of our traditional Christmas songs were popularised at this time and indeed Henry VIII was responsible for writing some of them. On 6th January a bean was baked into a cake and the person who received the bean became King of The Bean. Sugar banquets took place and sugar was added to everything.

Victorian Christmas Festivities

Christmas as we know it today really came into being in the Victorian era. It became a family focused festival thanks to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Britain in 1840. Presents were now exchanged on Christmas Day and many of our familiar traditions came into being such as Christmas cards, crackers, Christmas Pudding and attending church on Christmas Day. Santa Claus finally arrived from America in the 1870s.

We wish you all a Happy Christmas from The Ginger Peanut Restaurant and Accommodation Team however you choose to celebrate!
Why not join us over the Christmas period for some festive food and an overnight stay in one of our luxury rooms?
To book 01398 332244 or email food@gingerpeanut.co.uk


Christmas at The Ginger Peanut