Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom is usually eaten in the afternoon on 25 December.
The dinner usually consists of roast turkey, sometimes with roast beef or ham or pork. Served with stuffing, gravy and sometimes forcemeat; pigs in blankets; cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly; bread sauce; roast potatoes, vegetables, particularly brussels sprouts, parsnips and carrots; with dessert of Christmas pudding (or plum pudding), sometimes mince pies or trifle, with brandy butter and/or cream.
The turkey appeared on Christmas tables in England in the 16th century, and popular history tells of King Henry VIII being first English monarch to have turkey for Christmas. The tradition of turkey at Christmas rapidly spread throughout England in the 17th century,and it also became common to serve goose which remained the predominant roast until the Victorian era. A famous Christmas dinner scene appears in Dicken's A Christmas Carol (1843), where Scrooge sends Bob Cratchitt a large turkey.The pudding course of a British Christmas Dinner may often be Christmas pudding, which dates from medieval England. Trifle, mince pies, Christmas Cake or a Yule Log are also popular.

Most Christmas customs in the United States have been adopted from those in the United Kingdom. Accordingly, the mainstays of the British table are also found in the United States: roast turkey (or other poultry), beef, ham, or pork; stuffing (or 'dressing'), squash, roasted root vegetables, brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes are common. Common desserts include pumpkin pie, plum pudding or Christmas pudding, trifle, marzipan, pfeffernusse, sugar cookies, fruitcake, apple pie, Gooseberry Pie, carrot cake, bûche de Noël, and mince pies. In the South, coconut cake, pecan pie, and sweet potato pie are also common.


  1. Many of you will be sitting down to christmas dinner tonight with family and relatives of all sorts. Some of which you may only see once a year. You can casually drop these interesting dinner table facts into the conversation to impress your family members.

    FACT 1: the fork was once banned for religious reasons

    The fork was once banished by the Catholic church in Italy (around 1000 AD) as an assault to god’s intention for fingers. Everybody ate with thier fingers, so the Byzantine princess who brought the fork to Italy was viewed as an unwelcome upstart. The fork vanished for about 500 years, until it was finally accepted into polite society when in 1633 King Charles I of England made a royal decree that it was decent to use a fork. [the full story]

    FACT 2: sweet potatoes and yams are completely different

    In North America the word yam is often used interchangeably with sweet potato, but they are two plants of completely different species. Yams come from Africa and Asia. Sweet Potatoes from South America, and now grown locally in the US and Canada. The misnomer came when local sweet potato growers needed a name to differentiate between firm and soft varieties. The firm kind was called a yam, as it did look similar to the true African yam. [the full story]

    FACT 3: red peppers, green beans, and cucumbers are all fruits

    While often considered vegetables, and left out of the infamous tomato veggie/fruit debates, these three plants are technically in fruit territory. The rule is simple. If part of the plant contains or holds seeds then that part is labeled as a fruit. Conversely, there is no specific requirements to be a vegetable… it’s just a plant we like to eat. [the full story]

    FACT 4: in the US, a tomato is legally declared to be a vegetable for tax reasons

    One fellow was importing tomatoes into the US and he refused to pay a tariff based on the argument that the tomato is not a vegetable. While technically he was correct, the US Supreme Court passed a law in 1833 making the tomato a vegetable and thus firmly qualifying for the tax to be paid.

    FACT5 : carrots have only been orange for about 500 years

    The historical evidence suggests that the orange carrot on our dinner plates is a pretty new thing, popping up in Europe about 1600. Throughout human agricultural history carrots have been white, yellow, red, and purple but never known to be orange. We’re not certain how it happened, but they do figure that the new orange carrots were proudly encouraged by the Dutch people, where the orange colour was a symbol of political independence.

    So best of luck with these. Hopefully you’ll get the reputation of being the family super-genius.

  2. Christmas Dinner – Funny Poem
    Christmas Dinner always brings a terrible chore,
    ‘Cause I’m forced to eat and eat some more.
    If I don’t eat it up right down to dessert,
    I fear the cook’s feelings will be hurt,
    So I do my part, even though I suffer;
    To help out the others, I’m a belly stuffer.

  3. The inventor of the Christmas cracker or bon-bon was Tom Smith who owned a sweet shop in London.
    Visiting France in the 1840's, while Tom was in France, he came across sweets wrapped in a twist of paper. As they were quite popular, he began to copy the idea.

    When Tom noticed that young men were buying them to give to their sweethearts, he began to place "love mottoes" on small slips of paper inside the sweet wrapping.

    Later in 1846, and thinking about Christmas, Tom's thoughts turned towards placing toys and novelties inside the twisted wrapping. He experimented with this and invented the idea of producing a wrapping that could be pulled apart. Voila! The humble Christmas cracker!

  4. Facts about Christmas Food

    A traditional Christmas dinner in early England was the head of a pig prepared with mustard.
    An old wives' tale says that bread baked on Christmas Eve will never go mouldy.
    At Christmas, Ukrainians prepare a traditional twelve-course meal. A family's youngest child watches through the window for the evening star to appear, a signal that the feast can begin.
    At lavish Christmas feasts in the Middle Ages, swans and peacocks were sometimes served "endored." This meant the flesh was painted with saffron dissolved in melted butter. In addition to their painted flesh, endored birds were served wrapped in their own skin and feathers, which had been removed and set aside prior to roasting.
    Christmas pudding - This was originally a type of porridge called frumenty, but more and more ingredients got added through the years.
    Christmas pudding should be stirred from east to west.
    Christmas pudding was first made as a kind of soup with raisins and wine in it.
    If travelling in France during the Christmas season, it is interesting to note that different dishes and dining traditions reign in popularity in different parts of the country. In south France, for instance, a Christmas loaf (pain calendeau) is cut crosswise and is eaten only after the first part has been given to a poor person. In Brittany, buckwheat cakes and sour cream is the most popular main dish. In Alsace, a roasted goose is the preferred entrйe. In Burgundy, turkey and chestnuts are favored. In the Paris region, oysters are the favorite holiday dish, followed by a cake shaped like a Yule log.
    In Armenia, the traditional Christmas Eve meal consists of fried fish, lettuce, and spinach. The meal is traditionally eaten after the Christmas Eve service, in commemoration of the supper eaten by Mary on the evening before Christ's birth.
    In Britain, eating mince pies at Christmas dates back to the 16th century. It is still believed that to eat a mince pie on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas will bring 12 happy months in the year to follow.
    In Victorian England, turkeys were popular for Christmas dinners. Some of the birds were raised in Norfolk, and taken to market in London. To get them to London, the turkeys were supplied with boots made of sacking or leather. The turkeys were walked to market. The boots protected their feet from the frozen mud of the road. Boots were not used for geese: instead, their feet were protected with a covering of tar.
    It is estimated that approximately 400,000 people become sick each year from eating tainted Christmas leftovers.
    It was the custom to eat goose at Christmas until Henry VIII decided to tuck into a turkey. 93 per cent of the population in the UK will eat turkey on Christmas Day; this means 11million turkeys being cooked!
    Mince pies - You should eat mince pies in silence, and make a wish with each one.
    The Christmas turkey first appeared on English tables in the 16th century, but didn't immediately replace the traditional fare of goose, beef or boar's head in the rich households.
    The Christmas turkey was imported to France by the Jesuits and it is still known in some French dialects as a 'Jesuite'.

  5. How to Plan a Christmas Dinner (an excellent guide)

    Planning a Christmas dinner, isn't complicated, but the more forethought you give it the easier it will be. The key is to do as much work ahead of time as you can, so you and your guests can enjoy yourselves the day of the party.



    Decide how many guests you'll have at least two weeks beforehand, and assess how much space you have, both at the table and in your home.


    Compose your menu at least two weeks ahead of time as well. Plan for each person to eat between one and two pounds of food.


    Organize the menu into to-do lists, including all preparation steps.


    Clean out as much of the refrigerator as possible one week ahead. Be ruthless in your decisions about what to toss. The more free space in the fridge, the better.


    Make the big trip to the grocery store a week ahead as well. Most items, with the exception of salad greens and some fruit, will keep for a week.


    Consider serving the meal as a buffet if you want to serve more guests than your table will seat. Set the table against a wall near the kitchen and use it as the serving area. For buffet service, make sure to divide all the food into small portions.


    Make as many dishes the day before as you can. Prepare and chill desserts, make seasoning mixes and make or start accompanying sauces.


    Plan your guests' arrival to give you enough time to cook.