Nuts, Puddings and Crackers: Coping with an English Christmas

By Davis, Jean | Contemporary Review, December 1996 | Go to article overview

Nuts, Puddings and Crackers: Coping with an English Christmas


Davis, Jean, Contemporary Review


As the years pass, one thing is for sure. Resolutions are made in January merely so that they can be broken in the run-up to next Christmas. It is about Easter week that nuts bought as part of the over-abundance of festive essentials are brought out, dusted off, and busily shelled for the benefit of astonished birds, bored to death with their winter diet of peanuts.

In among the mutterings at yet another chore, each year the mind tucks away the resolve not to stock up with gimmickry this time. Items such as sugared almonds, crackers, dates, crystallised this and that, walnuts, almonds, Brazil, hazel, pecan nuts, you name it, exotica bursting with promise on supermarket shelves - this year will be passed by on the other side.

This, as a proposed line of action, is a lost cause, of course. It is on a par with the determination to reduce the overall impression of stocking for a siege, to cut down on quantities of ham, pork, brussels sprouts (nobody likes the things, anyway), to make fewer sausage rolls and mince pies. Carried away on waves of euphoria, there are added blissful ideas. Why not omit making all those puddings, refuse to produce an iced cake (which again nobody wants or likes, and which tends to linger until the Spring), and refuse to confront an enormous turkey? That will do away with the trauma of rising at dawn, after lying awake half the night trying to fit it, mentally, into the oven?

Alas and alack, woe and don't think life is like that. Any advance planning, any faint hope that perhaps, this once, it will be different, will fall when the first member of the family notes that some vital part of ritual has been missed.

'Where are the nuts, then?'

'But we always have sugared almonds on the table!'

'No ham for breakfast?' or 'fish pie', 'pickled herrings', 'pirozhki', perhaps 'carp' or 'Christstollen' on Christmas Eve? In these days of disappearing frontiers and much travelled youth, someone is bound to point out that presents in most parts of Europe are handed out the night before, so why should hard-done-by offspring in these islands have to wait until the long night passes? That is the way traditions start, they reply, should there be resistance.

Any feeble cries that general rituals associated with Christmas are of comparatively recent origin are ignored. Before Saturnalia, even, (another imported rite) the peasantry had to have something to stop them rebelling and being more than usually revolting, and when the Romans came they extended the holiday to seven days. Which, when you come to think of it, put extra burdens on the housewife even then.

Many a harassed hostess must have cursed the patrician insistence on menus including fiddly larks' tongues, baked hedgehog, fresh grapes when one or all were out of season, and anyway had a limited life-span. It can't have been easy with slave labour at its most indolent, suffering from the prevailing hang-over, and when any notion of preserving was confined to ice caves and when in doubt, treading anything available to turn it into wine.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Nuts, Puddings and Crackers: Coping with an English Christmas
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.