| "Round about the Cole Fire, or, Christmas Entertainments"|
By Dick Merryman, 1734
Well, he tell us, an English Gentleman at the opening of this great Day, had all his Tenants and Neighbors enter'd his Hall by Day-break, the Strong-Beer was broach'd, and the Black-Jacks went plentifully about with Toast, Sugar, Nutmeg, and good Cheshire Cheese.
Toast? Sugar? Nutmeg? Not too different from the challah French toast enjoyed nowadays. There was no Christmas tree (that was a 19th century German import) but the decor was distinctly festive nonetheless:
The Rooms were embower'd with Holly, Ivy, Cypress, Bays, Laurel, and Mistleto, and a bouncing Christmas Log in the Chimney glowing like the Cheeks of a Country Milk-maid.
This surely put everyone in a celebratory mood, and our commentator assures us that the Lasses were as blithe and buxom as the Maids in good Queen Bess's Days, when they eat Sir-Loins of Roast Beef for Breakfast. People are busy in the welcoming of guests, the man-servants were scuttling about preparing for the feast: drinking, carousing, womanizing. Yes, all is happy in the household.
|Minc'd Pye: Always a Favorite|
Indeed, he makes quite a fuss about this Holy Day being an occasion for the landed gentry to revel in the spirit of generosity, and it is quite possible that this –– the slow but ceaseless erosion of old class hierarchies –– is what he is really complaining about when he longingly speaks of the old traditions.