Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!
The Christmas spirit has definitely taken hold here in the offices of British Heritage. The printed December/January 2000/2001 issue of the magazine has loads of Christmas-related articles, including a piece about Charles Dickens’ great-great-grandson; the story behind England’s favourite Christmas carols; mistletoe’s role in holiday traditions, and Christmas revels of ages past.
It has been fascinating reading the history behind traditions we all take for granted. In our article "Celebrating the Season in Style" I learned that "when the Puritans banned Christmas festivities as frivolous some 350 years ago, 10,000 people of Kent signed a petition warning that ‘if they could not have their Christmas Day, they would have the king back on the throne.’" I never knew that when Charles Dickens read A Christmas Carol to audiences, people wept, screamed and swooned. According to his great-great-grandson, the author "judged the success of the readings by how many people fainted." I did not know, until I read our article on Christmas carols, that the tradition of carol-singing did not begin in churches. Sian Ellis tells us that the earliest use in English of the word carol was to denote a round dance with singing, and only later to describe a hymn associated with the Nativity. If you get hold of a copy of the Dec/Jan issue, I think you’ll enjoy our line-up. This time around, we’ve included the Holiday Fare section, listing sources for fine British foods and products to help with Christmas menus and gifts.
Also in our line-up, and presented here on thehistorynet for your entertainment, is a piece about Coventry, the city of Lady Godiva. Lady Godiva, who, according to legend, pleaded with her husband, the Earl of Mercia, to cancel a burdensome tax he had levied against his subjects. He agreed to do so only if she rode naked through the city. Grateful citizens agreed to remain indoors behind closed shutters while she made her ride, except for the notorious "Peeping Tom". Take a look at Jim Hargan’s article and find out whether the legend has any elements of truth to it.
In the meantime, good wishes from all of us at British Heritage to all of you. We hope you have a very enjoyable and peaceful Holiday Season.
All the Best,
Gail R Huganir
Editor & Publisher