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Yule Love Our Four Facts about Popular Christmas Traditions

In this two-minute read, we trace the origins of some of the sights, sounds,
and smells of Christmas.

Christmas is a time of mistletoe and mulled wine, twinkly trees,
and messages from the monarch.

And in London it seems like many people can’t wait
for the festive break.

So, let’s explore the history behind the enduring Christmas
customsmany of us enjoy.

Why do we decorate Christmas trees?

Pagan times, evergreens were placed in the home to ward off evil spirits and to
remind people during the depths of winter that spring would return.

the 16th century, devout Christians in Germany, who believed evergreen trees
symbolised everlasting life, had taken things a step further. They decorated evergreen
conifers with apples, paper roses, and candles (which they then lit) creating
an incredible spectacle – and a terrible fire hazard.

George III and his German wife Charlotte were among the first to adopt the
Christmas tree tradition in England, and it was later popularised by Queen
Victoria and her German-born husband, Albert.

Mulled wine

Romans get the credit for introducing this tipple to Europe in the 2nd century.
They heated their wine to ward off the cold and added spices (to promote good
health) and natural sweeteners (because the wine tasted awful).

other countries devised their own variations. The Germans guzzled glühwein, the
Swedes gluggedglögg, and the Brits got
through the Great Plague by knocking back “mulled sack”, which was safer to
drink than the water.

wasn’t until the 1800s that mulled wine became synonymous with Christmas.
Charles Dickens mentions it his novel A Christmas Carol. The Victorian author namechecks
Smoking Bishop, a mix of red wine, port, oranges, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.
We’ll drink to that, Tiny Tim!

Mistletoe mystery

are still not sure exactly how this tradition got started. What they do know is
that the Greeks, Romans, and Druids all prized mistletoe as a source of
healing, vitality, and fertility.

plant is also associated with Frigg, the Norse goddess of motherhood and
fertility, whose son was killed by an arrow made from mistletoe (doesn’t sound
very Christmassy to us).

this is all rather interesting, it doesn’t explain why servants in Britain
began to “kiss under the mistletoe” sometime between 1720 and 1784. Perhaps
someone below stairs got a bit lairy after one too many pints of mulled sack.

Royal message

all know the Royal Christmas Broadcast as the Queen’s Speech, but originally it
was the King’s Speech. George V delivered the first Royal Broadcast on
Christmas Day in 1932.

Elizabeth II’s grandfather gave his radio address from a small office in
Sandringham at 3pm, as this was the best time for reaching most of the
countries in the Empire by shortwave.

Queen delivered her first Christmas message in 1952 and her first televised
message in 1957. She’ll deliver her 68th Christmas message this

We’ll be sharing our Christmas and New Year opening hours with
you soon.

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