As Christianity spread in Medieval Europe, new traditions were established. For instance, near the end of the ninth century, King Alfred the Great of England (849-899) mandated that his subjects observe the Twelve Days of Christmas. He outlawed all legal proceedings, work, and fighting during that time.
The well-to-do were busy at Christmas: they made music, played games, danced, told stories, hunted, jousted, and feasted. The peasants were busy keeping the well-to-do fed. How busy? In 1213 King John of England (1167-1216) held one of the largest and most sumptuous Christmas banquets on record:
- 400 pigs
- 3,000 hens
- 15,000 herrings
- 10,000 salt eels
- scores of pheasants, partridges and other birds
- 27 hogsheads of wine
- 100 pounds of almonds
- 50 pounds of pepper
- and 2 pounds of saffron
Let’s just say that that would be an awful lot of leftovers.
Merry Christmas to all, and we’ll see you on the other side of New Year’s.