It is almost here! Are you ready yet? Have you got the turkey, the sprouts and the pudding on standby? Then again, you might be varying your Christmas menu this year and opting for beef, duck, goose, or even nut roast. One thing I am intrigued to discover is whether those of you who will be tucking into the traditional turkey feast will include a Yorkshire pudding on your plates? This seems to be increasing in popularity, although it can be a contentious issue among some folk and within families. (It even prompted much debate at our office Christmas lunch this week!) I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic; should Yorkshire pud be confined to roast beef dinners, or does it merit a prominent place alongside the Christmas turkey?
To get you in the mood for the approaching celebrations and good cheer, I have wrapped up a selection of festive facts and jokes. Sticking to tradition there are 12 – one for each day of Christmas. In the meantime, there’s festive folklore aplenty in the Almanac feature of the current issue of "Evergreen" (click here to order a copy).
1. According to the Met Office and the bookmakers, the chances of a white Christmas this year are 3/1 in the North of England; 5/1 in the South; 4/1 for Wales and 7/4 for Scotland.
2. The earliest printed collection of carols in England appeared in 1521. Among the oldest carols that we still sing today are: “The Holly and the Ivy”, “The Coventry Carol”, “Good Christian Men Rejoice”, “I Saw Three Ships” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”.
3. Britain’s best-selling festive single is “Do They Know It's Christmas?” by Band Aid, which sold 3.5 million copies in 1984.
4. The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square has been a gift from the Norwegian people since 1947 as thanks for Britain’s help during the Second World War.
5. Sir Henry Cole introduced the Christmas card in 1843. The artist John Calcott Horsley designed the first one. Christmas crackers followed four years later and were the brainchild of Tom Smith a confectioner.
6. Everyone associates the song “Jingle Bells” with Christmas, but it was written to celebrate Thanksgiving in America by James Pierpont in 1857. The original title was “One-Horse Open Sleigh”.
7. Many people dislike using the word “Xmas”, thinking it has no reference to Christ. However, “X” comes from the Greek “Chi”, which is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ. “Xmas” has been in use since the 16th century.
8. Our favourite reindeer, Rudolph, was created in 1939 by Robert L. May an American copywriter for an advertising campaign. May had considered naming the reindeer Reginald or Rollo!
9. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, was first held in 1918 and has been broadcast since 1928. The Dean of King’s College, Eric Milner-White, based it on a service devised in 1880 by the Bishop of Truro, Edward Benson (who later became Archbishop of Canterbury).
10. Wassail derives from the Anglo-Saxon expression “Waes hael!”, meaning “Good health!” The traditional celebratory drink contained mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. Cheers!
11. Two snowmen in a field, one turned to the other and said, "I don't know about you but I can smell carrots."
12. Why is it getting harder to buy Advent calendars?
Because their days are numbered.
And on that note, all that is left for me to do is to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year from everyone at “Evergreen” and “This England”.