Tuesday 12 November 2013

Ladybird Tuesday - Christmas Customs

It's Ladybird Tuesday! I'm starting my post this week with a proud picture of my new wall display:

Ladybird book cover postcards on wall display

A few weeks back I received a lovely kind gift from a blogging friend - Katie at Randomnest. A box set of 100 postcards, each one a copy of a vintage Ladybird book. It's a wonderful collection, and it's also a reminder of just how many fantastic Ladybird books have been published. I bought four little frames and chose four of my favourite postcards, with the intention of working my way through them. Definitely a great gift for a vintage Ladybird book lover!

Now onto this week's book. It's well into November now, so it must be time to start thinking about Christmas! The Ladybird book "The Stories of Our Christmas Customs" is from Series 644 - Customs. There were only two books in this series - this one and a more general book titled "Stories of Special Days and Customs" which covers other special days such as Shrove Tuesday. "The Stories of Our Christmas Customs" was published in 1964 and is a look at the origins of our familiar Christmas traditions.

The Stories of our Christmas Customs a Ladybird Book

The book begins with the reason that Christmas is celebrated - to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. But the origins of Christmas go back a lot further than that, and many of the traditions that we carry out at this time of year have nothing at all to do with Christianity. Long before Jesus was born, the 25th December was the shortest day of the year and people worshipped the sun, praying for it to return for another summer. Because Christians knew that God made the sun, they chose this day to worship the son of God. The shortest day now falls on the 21st December due to changes in the calendar, but the 25th December has remained as the day for celebration.

The Stories of our Christmas Customs a Ladybird Book

Even the Nativity scene has existed from times before the birth of Jesus, when clay dolls were sold in the streets of Rome at the Roman winter festivals to be given as presents. When Romans became Christians they bought dolls which looked like the people of the Nativity story, and so in time they were created specifically for this purpose. This book is filled with fascinating information!

The Stories of our Christmas Customs a Ladybird Book

The book looks at some of the things that people do at Christmas time, for example a trip to the pantomime or circus. The pantomime is a British custom, although had beginnings with the eighteenth century dancing of French comic dances from the Paris fairs, with stories from fairy tales and nursery rhymes added in to give the dancers a rest. This book suggests that the Christmas circus has become more popular than the pantomime. I'm not sure if this is still the case today, certainly I never went to a Christmas circus when I was little, although I've noticed more of them around over the last few years.

The Stories of our Christmas Customs a Ladybird Book

The book continues on from Christmas with a comprehensive look at Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, finishing with Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night doesn't have the importance in the calendar that it once did, and so the traditional Twelfth Night cake has now become Christmas Cake, eaten on Christmas Day.

This is an absolutely fascinating book, I can't believe how much I have learned from reading it! It is so interesting to learn about where all these customs come from, and of course even though the book itself was published a few years ago it is still absolutely relevant today.

If you love Ladybird books, do pop over and visit Ladybird Tuesday, where Being Mrs C is assembling a really comprehensive catalogue of Ladybird books and reviews.

Below you can find links to all my Ladybird Tuesday book posts.

Snow White and Rose Red
Hansel and Gretel
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
The Three Little Pigs
The Old Woman and her Pig
Little Red Riding Hood
The Ugly Duckling
The Railway Children
A Little Princess
A First book of Aesop's Fables

A Ladybird Book about Knitting
More Things to Make - For Special Occasions
Easy to Make Puppets
Learning to Sew
Stamp Collecting
Tricks and Magic

Prehistoric Animals and Fossils
Stone Age Man in Britain
Great Civilisations - Crete
Charles Dickens
Lives of the Great Composers Book 1
Lives of the Great Composers Book 2
The Story of Music

Plants and How They Grow
The Ladybird Book of the Night Sky
Sea and Air Mammals
The Farm

The Story of Nuclear Power
The Motor Car
How it Works - The Computer
How it Works - The Rocket
The Story of Ships
The Postman and the Postal Service
People at Work - The Nurse

Understanding Numbers
Talkabout Clothes
Going to School
Teaching Reading

Stories of Special Days and Customs
Christmas Customs

Girls and Boys - A Ladybird Book of Childhood

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