Deck The Hall: Yuletide Traditions And Customs

Wed 2 December 2009

David Bostwick

David Bostwick is a former Keeper of the Social History Collections at Sheffield City Museums and a specialist adviser on 16th & 17th century decorative plasterwork, woodwork and furniture. He is a consultant on historic buildings and their interpretation to The National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Scotland, also a visiting lecturer to the University of Glasgow. He is a lecturer for NADFAS, NACF, the National Trust, Antiques Societies and Garden Societies. His publications include articles in Apollo, Furniture History and Country Life.
The world’s first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry ColeChristmas, as a time of celebration, has a very long pedigree. The great mid-winter festival, known to the Romans as Saturnalis, is still greeted with feasting and drinking throughout the 12 days of Christmas. Wassail bowls and bobs, boars’heads stuck with apples, carolling, mumming, riotous games in hall – all presided over by the Lord of Misrule. Twelfth Night signalled an end to the merry anarchy with great pies and rich fruit cake concealing a bean and a pea. Using contemporary illustrations, this lecture explores the sources and significance of these ancient customs and traditions.