A Tudor Christmas
with From Time to Time
Thursday 1 December 2016
Society Members and guests were entertained by the living history duo “From Time to Time” who, in authentic costumes of the period, told how our Tudor ancestors celebrated the festive season.
During Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, people abstained from “white meats” (which included butter and eggs), the period of abstinence lasting until after the first church service of Christmas Day (Midnight Mass). (There’s not so much fasting during Advent these days!) The first day of note in the Christmas calendar however was 21st December, St Thomas’s Day, the only day of the year when it was permissible to beg without a license, so many people would be out a-thomasing, singing and collecting money from door to door.
From this beginning, the ladies took their audience through the entire Christmas period explaining the customs associated with each day, and singing some unusual and extremely tuneful carols.
Christmas Day itself was devoted to feasting and merriment. The next day – St Stephen’s Day, was noted for horseracing.
Christmas-tide ended with Twelfth Night, but people didn’t go back to work till the Monday following (so if Twelfth Night fell on a Sunday it was rather unfortunate). This Monday was known as Plough Monday, and was when the plough, which had been placed in the church and decorated over the Christmas season, was brought out again. And woe betide any householder who had been less than generous to the ploughboys who had been a-thomasing a couple of weeks before – they were likely to wake up and find their gardens ploughed up!