Thursday, 14 December 2017

A – Z: seasonal take for Lee’s A – Z Challenge ...



... see how easy it can be ... an ABC of the Aspects of the British Countryside to an A – Z about our Christmastide ... come join the fun – April First 2018 is our starting day – but you’re not a fool to take part ...

I'm now over in Canada ... with a family adjusting to changes - so life will be slightly different this year ... but here's to the traditional family Christmas I've been used to in England ... when not in South Africa ... 


Advent – from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” – Advent Sunday is the start of the Advent season – fourth Sunday before Christmas Day.

Brandy Butter – an essential addition for Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies

Christmas – Christ’s Mass is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes maesse, a phrase first recorded in 1038.

Decorations – from pre-Christian times, people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter.  In the 15th Century in London it was the custom for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm (Holm Oak), ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season the year afforded to be green".  “Deck the Halls” ... a traditional Yuletide/Christmas carol and New Year carol.

Extras: Bread sauce, chestnut stuffing, bacon rolls, turkey gravy from the juices, cranberry sauce, bowls of nuts, custard, creams and chocolates ...  

Flowers to decorate the table – Christmas roses, hollywreaths ...

Grandparents or remembering them, and all family - the essentials to Christmastide ...

Holly – was seen as a protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the Crucifixion and the blood he shed.

Ivy – the heart shaped leaves are said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus

Jingle Bells – an American secular Christmas song

Karpfen in Bier: a traditional Christmas Eve dish in Germany – “Carp in Beer” ... poached, served with a sauce made from the liquor, with brown ale and gingerbread

Leftovers ... sliced ham or turkey, chipolatas, devils on horseback (bacon wrapped around prunes), fresh bread, baked potatoes, pickles and salads ...  then bowls of rich turkey soup, turkey or ham ‘muck up’ ... fried Christmas pudding with brandy butter .... yummmeeee ....

Mince Pies with brandy butter or cream – may be eaten before a snatched kiss under the mistletoe

N for Nativity – Commemoration of Jesus’ birth – popularised by Saint Francis of Assissi from 1223

O Little Town of Bethlehem – one of many traditional Christmas Carols sung in Church or at Carol Services

Plum Pudding .... on which a sprig of holly is set, brandy poured over and set alight, before being served with brandy butter, cream or custard ...

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Britain: they were enamoured seeing a tree hung with lights, ornaments and presents placed around.

Remember our loved ones – with a Christmas card, personal telephone call or special handwritten letter --- especially those thank you letters and cards.

Santa Claus – leave out gifts for Santa to thank him for his visit  ... Stilton, Mince Pies with a glass of sherry

Tradition – Christmas is a strong Christian tradition, from which over time a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed, that incorporate regional and local cultures.

Units of weight – you’ll be dieting in January 2018 – sorreeeeee!

Vegetables – roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, roast onions, roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts, carrots, red cabbage ...

Wassail cup – historically mulled cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger spices, roasted cider apples to decorate and topped with slices of toast, acting as sops.

X - the great unknown .... xxx or perhaps that KISS under the Mistletoe

Yule Log: Buche de Noel – a traditional dessert served at Christmas time particularly in francophone countries and former French colonies.  A sponge cake in the form of a log – filled with chocolate buttercream, covered in a chocolate ganache or frosting, decorated with powdered sugar to resemble snow.

Z       Zizz it all off – just don’t hibernate ‘til April ....

The first year I participated
in the A - Z ... 2nd year I
participated
Lee’s great suggestion of the A – Z posts can be filled with so many ideas ...  good for our creativity, while greeting old friends and meeting new bloggers – come join the fun.

I so enjoyed the Challenge last year - thanks so much Lee for the Christmas opportunity – Happy Christmastide to one and all .. with a very successful 2018 ahead ...

The sign-up will come early in the New Year.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

52 comments:

Terra said...

I am in awe of how you could do a Christmas A-Z and even made each one interesting. Have a lovely holiday this year in Canada.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think I've ever had a Yule Log.
Leftovers mean turkey and stuffing sandwiches! No dieting in January - just not eating what I did the weeks prior.

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

Very cool and fun for the holidays!

Patsy said...

Brandy! We've just been shopping and I knew there was something else I wanted to get - it was Brandy for the brandy butter and to set light to the pudding. I can go back of course, but I'm not sure I'll be able to resist the mead for a second time.

A lovely, festive A-Z, Hilary.

Joanne said...

you captured all aspects of Christmas with your December A to Z challenge. Excellent and festive job!

Elephant's Child said...

Loving your festive A-Z, and hoping the years is full of peace, love, smiles and exciting explorations.

Anabel Marsh said...

Very clever - even those difficult letters! Hope your Christmas is A for Awesome.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Terra - I think I almost think in A-Zs now and I thought well this would make a good post sometime ... in fact I'm glad it was ready for this year ...

@ Alex - Yule logs are pretty decadent ... but if one likes chocolate - then rather good! Leftovers always good to go ... I agree no need to diet just cool the food intake ...

@ Holly - am happy you enjoyed ...

@ Patsy - oh gosh ... no brandy - that's serious! Well splurging out on a treat at this time of year isn't too awful - so I think you should return for mead and that forgotten brandy ...

@ Joanne - something that was easier to do much earlier in the year - I must have been in Christmas blog gear!

@ EC - thanks and you too - here's to peace, love, smiles and yes exciting explorations ... I'll be doing that ...

@ Anabel - sometimes one can manipulate those difficult letters and I enjoy that part of it ...

Thanks so much to you all - here's to a very happy Christmas and New Year one and all ... cheers Hilary

Liz A. said...

Nice use of A to Z :)

Nick Wilford said...

I feel very festive after that! Didn't know the significance of holly and ivy. Interesting as always.

Fil said...

That almost makes a great shopping list Hilary :) Thanks for the reminders lol And I really want to try that wassail drink.
Have a lovely time in Canada - a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Hopefully I'll join the A2Z this year - if I can get well ahead with it.
Fil x

Sandra Cox said...

I loved this post, Hilary! Some things I knew. Some I didn't.
Happy Holidays! I hope that your Christmas in your new home is wondrous.

Chatty Crone said...

I just LOVED this - what a great idea - I need to do that for ours - but you did a lot of research there. Found a lot of things I did not know. sandie

Botanist said...

Love the A to Z. For leftovers, we often do a turkey noodle soup, creamy turkey curry, turkey salad and chips ... yum!

Christmas pudding is relatively unknown this side of the world but we use my traditional family recipe with the fruit soaked in lashings of brandy, and of course brandy butter! Trouble is, we usually make the puds at least a year in advance to let the flavor mature, and we didn't get around to it this time :( Oh, well, there's always next year.

Rhonda Albom said...

That's a fun recount of Christmas past and present (from A to Z). Well done.

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. I'm sure you have got all of your readers really in the festive mood now and you've managed to do it with lots of interesting facts. You're a facts gal and I like that!
Incidentally Holm Oak is, unusually, an evergreen. Just sayin'.
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s concinnituous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Jo said...

You reminded me of many things which I don't see or haven't done in many a year. Most people on this side of the pond don't know bread sauce, to me it is very important. Oh and personally, I prefer rum butter.

Thanks for a great post Hilary, enjoyed it.

Happy Christmas to you.

Rhodesia said...

Well done, you have made a good job of this post. Happy Christmas and keep warm. Diane

Connie Arnold said...

How fun to see your list of A-Z for Christmas, Hilary. You were quite clever with x and z! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

Jacqui Murray said...

What a great idea, Hilary. I have my list drafted but not enough of anything else to post. I am looking forward to spending 30 days with you in April!

DMS said...

Great job! Loved reading and seeing your Christmas A-Z. I have heard of many of the things on the list- but not Carp in beer. Hmmm... Not sure if I would enjoy that one. :)

Thanks for sharing!
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Liz - thanks ...

@ Nick - I agree thinking about all those seasonal things makes me feel festive too ...

@ Fil - I can see how one could use it for a shopping list - wassail is something I don't think I've tried, but wouldn't mind one day. Thank you re Canada - it'll be different ... and great you'll be joining us in the A-Z next year ...

@ Sandra - that's brilliant, so glad you enjoyed it ... we'll be having fun and it'll be different ...

@ Sandie - thank you ... I think I found most of the things and then it was easy to make sure all the letters were there ...

@ Ian - many thanks ... lots of choices for turkey left overs - we did those in England ... certainly soup, possibly not with noodles in ... and probably baked potatoes ... but quite often a form of bubble and squeak ...

We've got Christmas pudding here - always good - as long as there's lots of brandy butter to go with it! I know home-made is preferable ... always well-timed for an early making ... here we've got bought ... but exactly - there's always next year.

@ Rhonda - glad you enjoyed ...

@ Bazza - thanks .. it was fun to write up - and as you mention festively appropriate. I checked about the Holm Oak - I'd implied it was green ... and used in decorating the Churches. It was only brought to England in the late 1700s or early 1800s ... and is known as the Evergreen Oak ...

@ Jo - I know my Christmas will be very relaxed this year - but that's fine ... I'll appreciate my return to England in due course ... I'm a brandy girl ... but bread sauce is a must for me too - I suspect I won't have that this year ... but it'll be different ...

@ Diane - thanks ... you enjoy your traditional style Christmas in England ...

@ Connie - one needs to be creative with the A-Z ... and usually the difficult letters can be dealt with in some 'funny' way ...

@ Jacqui - that's great .. I had this prepared earlier in the year - thinking I'd save myself some time - but didn't think about being over here! Great to see you in April - it's a fun hairy scary time! - which I do enjoy ...

@ Jess - so glad you enjoyed ... the Karpfen in Bier fitted my 'K' ... and made an interesting German traditional addition to the list - I think I'd probably quite like it ... but at some other time of the year!

Thank you so much for your comments and appreciation ... we're now 10 days away ... it's rushing by ...

Have a wonderful last week and enjoy all the Nativity plays, the Carol Services and festivities as you join in ... cheers for now - Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've never tried plum pudding and now that I'm vegan, I never will I'm afraid.

Sue Bursztynski said...

How clever! All that A to Z in one post! Not my holy day, but I have a tradition of a Christmas Day beach picnic. I get up early, bake bread and gather a hamper of goodies - cheeses, summer fruit, any mince pies given to me by friends - none this year, so it will be shortbread of the kind they sell in decorative tins in the supermarket and nobody but me ever eats, or I might buy some mince pies as well - and a thermos of tea, and off to enjoy a book on the sand and maybe a swim. Southern hemisphere! This year my mother will be with me, so enough food for two.

Have you actually moved to Canada? I thought it was a trip. I hope you settle in nicely.

Of Books And Christmas

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Loved your A-Z post! I wish someone other than me (in my family) liked Christmas pudding. I made a batch of it one year and a neighbor and I ate it all after everyone else had a polite but very small piece. I haven't made it since. It's a lot of work for just one person.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm feeling like some wassail right now!

What a great A-Z for the season! Hope you're settling in well. :)

Keith's Ramblings said...

My favourite leftover concoction is good 'ole bubble and squeak, a dish that makes even those ghastly sprout things taste good!

Kim Blades said...

Hi Hilary. What an informative post. I now know a lot more about Christmas that I did before reading it. We are braaing and making fish curry for Christmas this year!

Jz said...

Holy crumbs! The entire A-Z in one go - clearly you're revving up for April!
Merry Christmas!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane - I understand being vegan you wouldn't be able to eat a plum pudding ... but they can be delicious ...

@ Sue - I understand there are other holy days around Christmas.. but for now it takes centre stage for some of us. Your day at the beach sounds good - and lovely to have your mother with you - those precious moments with one's parents at special times are always so memorable - enjoy your time with your Mama.

No - I'm having a sojourn in Canada ... exactly how long I'm not sure ... but not a holiday as such ...

@ Sharon - it's a very English Christmas style post ... so understand you'd enjoy reading it. It's sad about the Christmas pud ... but understand. I've never made one - I've always been places where family or friends made their own ... We've got a bought one here ... Jenny loves her deserts! As long as there's brandy butter I'm fine with it!!

@ Elizabeth - I must get some wassail when I get back home and try it ... having a glass in the right place at the right time of year sounds good. Thanks re the settling in ... am getting to grips with things, slowly!

@ Keith - bubble and squeak is good at any time of the year ...well probably not high summer ... but I love Brussels sprouts!

@ Kim - it was a fun post to write up. The braai sounds good - the fish curry also ... but I'd probably have it when it's cooler. I do love South African foods though ...

@ Jz - it was there to be prepared and I did it earlier in the year ... but got posted now - as time isn't really on my side at the moment being in Canada.

Cheers and thanks so much for visiting - enjoy this last week before Christmas comes around ... all the best - Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

I don't know if I've had Brandy Butter but it sounds luscious.
Enjoy your weekend.

Inger said...

This was so great. I really enjoyed it and now I want to do one for a Swedish Christmas, but not sure I have the energy yet. Thanks for this though and for visiting. You are such a good friend. And so much closer now!!

Paula Kaye said...

This was wonderful. You mentioned several foods that have my mouth watering. I've always wanted to taste mince pie. It sounds so intriguing. Merry Christmas my friend!

Robert Bennett said...

This is really cool. I didn't know most of this. Weirdly enough, the one that struck me hardest was Jingle Bells. I actually had no idea this was a specifically American song.

Vallypee said...

What a fun A to Z, Hilary! Yes to all those things, but my favourites are always the left overs. I hope you enjoy your Canadian Christmas this year. Wishing you a very happy one with lots of left overs to tuck into after the day!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

From A to Z and one to infinity, may you have a fantabulous Christmas, dear Hilary, and here's (Cheers!) to a wonderful new year filled with laughter and love.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra - brandy butter once or twice a year is good! Luscious is another word ...

@ Inger - a Swedish one would be fascinating to see some of the differences - perhaps next year or for the A-Z in April. It's a pleasure to come over and say hi ... to see the Canyon, the dogs and generally be with you for a few moments: I often think of you and your times in the UK ...

@ Paula - mince pies are positively delicious - again not eaten too often! But they are good standbys and easy to make ...

@ Robert - yes I was interested in the fact Jingle Bells is an American song ... but glad you enjoyed the other letters ...

@ Val - I have to say I was pleased with this A-Z too! Left overs are always excellent - I seem to be a guest and not staying over ... so in recent years have missed out on the left overs.

@ Susan - thanks for your thoughts ... lots of A-Z ideas here for all ... kids, grandparents, parents, families and friends ...

Thanks so much to you - I echo your sentiments ... here's to a wonderful fantabulous Christmas with lots of laughter and love ... Cheers and happy times in the week ahead and all future weeks - Hilary

Jean Davis said...

What a fun idea with A to Z! I may have to check this out. As usual, you've made me hungry with all the food talk and now I have to go snack on Christmas cookies. Have a wonderful holiday!

RO said...

You mention a lot of great things and all in one post! Some of those items are pretty neat! Hugs...and thanks for sharing so many of your traditions. Hugs...RO

cleemckenzie said...

An AtoZ holiday treat! I salivated over the Brandy Butter. I may have break down and make a Christmas Pudding this year.

Have a wonderful holiday season. See you in 2018, Hilary.

Denise Covey said...

Such talent, Hilary. A Christmas A - Z. Wow. Interesting to know where many of our traditions began. I hope your Canadian Christmas shapes up! Now an Australian Christmas is very different...

Happy Christmas!

klahanie said...

Hey Hilary,

Oh yikes and oh my, the A to Zed, or for those folks in the US of A, the A to Zee of Boxing Day Eve, sorry, Christmas.

Almost seriously, such a terrific job you did incorporating the 26 letters of the alphabet we are familiar with.

Of course, you now filled me with dread thinking about next year and the A to Z that starts on April Fool's Day.

Wish you some wondrous adventures on Vancouver Island. Have fabulous season to be jolly, eh.

Hugs from your friends, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar and of course, her human dad, Gary :)

Lynda Dietz said...

Okay, now you have me wanting to try brandy butter!

I've never had a Yule log, but I have to admit that I *feel* like a Yule log when the holiday celebrations are finally finished.

troutbirder said...

Very clever and well done. Mrs. Troutbirder and I in our "golden years still celebrate but cutting back on all things is what we do year round now. No Christmas tree or card but light and decorations. Our daughter in law will be bringing dinner on the twenty fifth having become a widow 20 years ago at Christmas time. A bitter sweet time indeed...:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ RO - it was a fun post to write up for this time of year ... and reminds me of home ...

@ Lee - Brandy butter is a once a year 'delight' to the taste buds ... but Christmas pudding in the heat is something I never got used to in South Africa ...

@ Denise - this was pre-written but I loved writing it up - old traditions, some as a family in England we always did and still do ... Canadian farm Christmas will be different - relaxed for sure. Australia and South Africa - hot times ... but Christmas still comes around - enjoy yours ...

@ Gary - yes, Zed or Zee ... we're nearly there. I enjoyed writing up the post ... but now am adjusting to a Canadian Christmas - I'm sure the Island will be a lot of fun ... for now we're snowed in I think! We'll see later on ... lovely to hear from Penny and her human Dad - you too have a peaceful time ... and a good year in 2018 ...

@ Lynda - brandy butter is very luscious ... and yes once one has eaten everything a roly-poly comes to mind ... I'll try not to do that this year.

@ Troutbirder - such a difficult time of year for you and your family - I'm so glad your DIL is bringing over a dinner for you ... that's a lovely gift of giving for you all at this time of year. Bitter sweet as you say ...

Thanks to you all - some of us remember and have difficult times during the festive season ... wishing you all peace and health - lovely to see you here - cheers Hilary

bookworm said...

That A to Z topic is brilliant! I am probably not going to participate this year with two blogs - and I haven't thought of my topic for my "other" blog yet. But I look forward to reading your posts! The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogspot.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bookworm - so pleased you enjoyed this A-Z. I don't know what I'll do for the Challenge in 2018 ... but I suspect Canada might feature somewhere ... and thank you ahead for reading the posts ... cheers Hilary

Becca said...

I enjoyed reading your A-Z about Christmas. My aunt made some amazing vegetables this year for Christmas dinner. I think it was one of my healthiest meals of the year!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jean - sorry just rescued your comment from the spammish mire! Hope you enjoyed your snack of Christmas cookies? Now hope you had a wonderful festive time in your new home ...

@ Becca - good to see you ... and thanks re the A-Z ... how lucky you had such a good choice of veggies over Christmas - I do love my veg ...

Happy New Year (now) to everyone and you two ... cheers and all the best - Hilary

Lynn said...

Oh yes - it's January and I'm dieting. :) Love this post, Hilary.

Emily Bloomquist said...

Hi Hilary - I am attempting to get caught up on your blog. Canada, eh? Depending on the part you are in, it might be a bit cold right now but I hope you are enjoying yourself.

I had no idea that Saint Francis of Assissi popularized the Nativity. Interesting post as always.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - I know the over-eating, which is so delicious at Christmas, sends us off to a quiet 'diet' for January .. thanks ...

@ Emily - yes I'm over here now on Vancouver Island .. it has been cold, but now is sort of English style weather!

It was interesting about the Nativity isn't it ... and good to know in the 21st century we can remember that far back ...

Cheers to you both - and thanks for visiting - Hilary