Friday, 10 December 2010

December - seasonal food

The main Anglo-Saxon festivals took place at the midsummer and midwinter solstices. The latter survives as the modern Yule. Animals were slaughtered in preparation for the winter and great feasts and sacrifices took place in honour of the gods.

Christmas ham  The tradition of eating ham at Christmas may originate from the custom of eating wild boar at midwinter feasts. The ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia by eating wild boar. Wild boar was associated with warriors and both the male fertility god, Frey, and the goddess Frija. Norse warriors sacrificed a wild boar while making vows for the coming year – the origin of New Year resolutions today. In medieval England, A boar's head was central to the midwinter Yule feasts that preceded the Christmas festival.

The oldest existing printed Christmas carol is The Boar's Head Carol (printed 1521), which was sung in England at Christmas dinner while a boar's head was carried on a platter. The custom is still observed every Christmas at Queen's College, Oxford.

Tonight I am attending the first Christmas meal with my chapter of the Red Hat Ladies. I am a little disappointed to see that there is no pork (wild or otherwise) on the traditional carvery menu.