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Archive for December 26th, 2009

What is Boxing Day and why is it called that?

One of my most ‘fun things to do’ is researching different traditions and looking for interesting websites.
I was mulling over the words ‘Boxing Day’ and wondering where exactly it originated.  This is what I found:

“Christmas boxes were originally literally earthenware boxes. In mediaeval England, these boxes were used by the poor (servants, apprentices etc.) to save money throughout the year. At Christmas, the boxes were broken open and the savings shared to fund Christmas festivities. This meaning of Christmas box dates back to at least the early 17th century. The boxes were known in France as tirelire and are referred to in Randle Cotgrave’s A Dictionarie of the French and English tongues, 1611: Tirelire, a Christmas box; a box having a cleft on the lid, or in the side, for money to enter it; used in France by begging Fryers, and here by Butlers, and Prentices, etc.

In a similar tradition, which is almost as old as the above and which is the one that has stayed with us until the present day, Christmas boxes were gifts, usually money, given to tradespeople or others who have rendered some service throughout the year but who aren’t normally paid directly by the donor – for example, office cleaners, milkmen etc, and since they did not work on Christmas Day would receive them on ‘Boxing Day’

Also, the feast of St Stephen (day after Christmas) aka Boxing Day was traditionally when the alms box at every English church was opened and the contents distributed to the poor.

And this also explains the tradition of calling a christmas present a ‘christmas box’ whether its in a box or not.”

So there you have it.   I do wonder if the tradition of alms boxes still exists?  I do like the idea of a festivities box though, where we could save all our pound coins perhaps and then at the end of the year; indulge in a treat, like a spa/massage or coach-tour somewhere special.

What do you think?   Should we have our own special ‘Christmas Box’.  or should it be reserved for the alms boxes and as a thank you to the service men & women in our lives?

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I was looking for a recipe for mulled wine and found this on Yahoo. I was expecting to open a link direct to a recipe; I found this instead.

It made for entertaining reading and there are some great recipes too 🙂

I have listed some of the comments below; unedited:

a. simple-buy a bottle of german gluhwein add fruit and spices and off you go

b. Go to a German Christmas market, (they are in a lot of UK cities) buy a bag of mulled wine herbal mix (about £3) and follow instructions. Takes 15 minutes. Easy!

c. you can get mulling spices at most supermarkets this time of year
just put them in the wine, poof

d. Currently, as I have it in the cupboard, I open red wine, put it in a pan, and pour mulling syrup into it.  If I didn’t have this then it depends what I have in.  It always contains Red Wine, cinnamon stick, cloves, honey and nutmeg.
If I have them I will stud the cloves into either a tangering/satsuma/orange or an apple.   sometimes I also add lemon/ornage zest & juice.
Mulled wine is such a varied thing that having a set recipe is pointless, just warm the wine witht he spices and add things if you think it will improve it.

e. Mug a homeless wino as they are they only people who can get real mulled wine, no one knows where it comes from.

f. GO TO YOUR NEAREST SUPERMARKET BUY A BOTTLE,,,IT’S CHEAPER THAN YOU CAN MAKE IT AND QUICKER,,, OPEN IT DRINK IT AS QUICK AS POSSIBLE THEN YOU WONT WORRY WHAT IT TASTES LIKE,,, ,,, THE 3RD GLASS MAKES IT TASTE FANTASTIC,,, JUST DONT FART BEFORE THEN,,, LOL

g. If you buy decent wine in the first place you won’t have to try and disguise it

and then a real recipe:

1. For fantastic mulled wine. 2 bottles good wine, ginger , star aniseed, cloves , fresh large wedges of orange and lemon, cinamon stick & sugar.
wonderful drink.
2 bottles wine, 1 bottle water, 1 small cup brown sugar or honey, 1 orange & 1 lemon cut into wedges, 4/5 star aniseed, several cloves stuck into the orange, 1 cinamon stick and grated peeled fresh ginger. Heat gently, don’t boil.  Thats it, Fantastic

and finally:

2. 4 cups apple cider
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
3 star anise
4 oranges, peeled, for garnish
Directions
Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.

and happy holidays. After that I would not be surprised if you have a head-ache 🙂

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