The Christmas/Midwinter round-up!

When you’ve been blogging for a while, you realise that there are very few subjects left uncovered and there are experts in everything (…and some who specialise in opinion, perhaps…). Anyway, here’s a round-up of festive posts for your reading delight.

Copyright D McIlmoyle

Copyright D McIlmoyle

For a summary of the ancient origins of Christmas and midwinter customs, you could visit my post or pop over to Medievalists for their very thorough summary of Christmas in the Middle Ages.

One of my favourite blogs which seems to get nowhere near the coverage it should is Ferrebeekeeper. Here you will find no less than four posts on the origins of Santa Claus – including the intriguing ‘Acquiring Elves and Flying Magical Steeds’ – and one on his own quite insane Christmas tree. Read, comment, and subscribe – the three wise men of blog appreciation!

Over at English Historical Fiction Authors, MM Bennetts writes a post about a Viennese Christmas in 1814, hinting delightfully at some English traditions we take for granted.

The historical author, Elizabeth Chadwick, has a written a typically interesting post on the subject of midwinter light, how people coped with the short days in times past, and its impact on our instincts.

Another favourite blog of mine, Contagions, has a staggeringly comprehensive post directing us to stories about science and disease in history, and including one on a Victorian Christmas tree hung with scientific instruments! Fascinating stuff.

Back in Cumbria, this post of mine tells you about mumming – Christmas plays – on the west coast in the 1820s. This one takes us up to my own personal history with the story of my Gran’s Christmas cooking. And if you’re looking for a story of a baby born at midwinter… well try baby Dinogad, born in 6th century Cumbria, swaddled in fur, to a mother who sung Cumbria’s oldest lullaby.

Of course, we had midwinter a long time before we had Christmas, as illustrated by Cumbria’s own Long Meg stone circle, which is aligned to the midwinter sunset. We have other popular stone circles but only Long Meg offers this tantalising glimpse into the minds of our ancestors 5,000 years ago.

Copyright D McIlmoyle

Copyright D McIlmoyle

If Cumbria’s stone circles are a bit far for you, take a peek at the live webcam at Maes Howe on Orkney. This 4,800-year-old cairn is positioned so that the setting sun of Midwinter illuminates the central chamber. Make an appointment for 3-4pm this Friday, 21st December.

I can think of nothing better than rolling home to a glass of seasonal punch. I could give you my recipe (heavy on the rum and star anise), but try Bad Witch’s for a magical kick.

Enjoy your season, whatever it means to you. I’d like to dedicate it to the three people I lost this summer – my mum Joan, my aunt, Pat, and my uncle, Bob. Three more stars in the sky.

©Diane McIlmoyle 19.12.12

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