We’re one of the only Worcester hotels that truly embraces the joys and nuances of the festive season. As soon as is reasonable, we bring out the decorations and look forward to welcoming guests during their Christmastime celebrations. In our latest blog, we look at some much-loved Christmas traditions and their origins.
The first Christmas card was created in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole and John Horsley. Many think it was sent to share cheer, but it was in fact a ploy to help the Post Office (or Public Records Office as it was then known) increase its profits, and to entice more people to use its services. In those days, cards cost a shilling and stamps were a penny – a small fortune, even though we all like to complain about the price of a stamp today! By 1900 such cards were being sent throughout Europe and had increased in popularity. Nowadays, many people make a real tradition of marking off their Christmas card list and deciding who is worthy of receiving a card. Even more people forgo paper altogether and use social media or e-cards to share festive greetings. It’s a real sign of the times.
You either love them, or you loathe them. A lot of people are forgiven for thinking that modern mince pies contain meat, but they do not! In fact, early mince pies were actually made of meat, fruit and spices and have been known as mutton pie, shrid pie and Christmas pie. It is thought their fillings were brought back by the Crusaders who visited the Middle East. Due to the religious nature, they usually had 13 ingredients that represented Christ and the Apostles. By Victorian times, meat was long since missing from the recipe and nowadays are filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices called “mincemeat”.
A beloved part of Christmas celebrations held in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Commonwealth countries, Christmas crackers are a much-anticipated part of Christmas day meals. Set around the table, two people can enjoy trying to win whatever treat or fancy is hidden inside. The origins of the cracker date back to the 1840s, when London sweet-maker Tom Smith was inspired by traditional, paper-wrapped French bonbons. Even today this fun treat can be known as bon-bons in some regions of Australia. His creation originally included mottos, riddles, love messages and sweets, and his sons later included hats and novelty gifts. The cracker was originally called a cosaque but soon the onomatopoeic “cracker” name stuck. A fun fact – many commercial flights refuse to let crackers on board at any time of year!
Now that you’ve learned all about tried and true Christmas traditions, why not start your own? We’ve been serving Afternoon and High Tea for as long as we can remember, and our Festive Afternoon Tea is the perfect way to introduce a new tradition into your life. Available throughout December, you can tuck into suitably festive fayre as the entire meal is set around the season. Think turkey and cranberry with watercress sandwiches, sweet treats such as mini sherry trifle and mine pies, not forgetting tea, coffee and scones. It’s the perfect catch up, goodbye or mini celebration before Christmas.