BarbaraBettis

MEDIEVAL MONDAY: WHAT’S FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER IN THE MIDDLE AGES?

Christmas in Merrie Olde England—when the “family dinner” took on new meaning. Researching for my medieval stories, I’ve run across some great tidbits about just how Christmas was celebrated some eight to nine hundred years ago. I thought it might be fun to look at the medieval lord and lady’s Christmas meal.

By the way: the medieval era encompasses several hundred years, so what may have held true in the Early Medieval years may have evolved by the High Medieval period.

According to several sources, serving Boar’s Head was traditional. The head was roasted and served with great ceremony, often with an apple or orange in its mouth (Cosman). The rest of the pig was served as bacon or in regular pork cuts. The people bringing this delicacy to the lord’s table would sing “the boar’s head carol” the chorus of which was: “The boar’s head in hand bring I, With garlands gay and rosemary, I pray you all sing merrily” (Cosman).

In the countryside, the wild boar’s head would likely be offered to “the goddess of farming” to ensure “a good crop in the following year”—a practice not sanctioned by the Church, of course.

There would be wild fowl, poultry including goose, and if the lord gives permission, swan. Often the skin of the fowl would be coated with oil and saffron to make it golden. Some sources report that in certain rich households the feathers might be carefully replaced on the swan, and the resulting main course carried to the high table with great ceremony.

Other meat included venison, which was a staple. But only the lord and lady, along with others of importance around the manor, got the good parts of the deer. The poor got what was left—the heart, liver, tongue, feet, ears and brains or the “umbles.” Those delicacies were cooked up, mixed with whatever else might be handy, and made into a pie. “Therefore, the poor would eat ‘umble pie.’ We still have that phrase when we say ‘eating humble pie.’

The Christmas pudding known as ‘frumenty’ was popular. Made of boiled wheat it was usually mixed with currents and dried fruit. (recipe link below). Then, of course, there was the mincemeat pie, made of real shredded meat, spices and fruit.

The lord of the manor usually provided Christmas dinner for his tenants—but they often had to bring their own food. And dishes. And cloths. And fuel to cook the food. Frances and Joseph Gies wrote: “Tenants…usually…owed the lord bread, hens, and ale, which they brewed themselves, while in return he gave the Christmas dinner, consisting mainly of the food they had provided….[T]he tenants often even provid[ed] their own fuel, dishes, and napkins.”

Here is an early image of a Medieval Christmas dinner featuring a roast peacock (rather than swan). Imagine what a time the cook had putting those feathers back on!

In the early 1300s, some prosperous tenants of one manor received “‘two white loaves, as much beer as they will drink in the day, a mess of beef and of bacon with mustard, one of browis [stew] of hen, and a cheese, fuel to cook their food…to burn from dinner time till even and afterwards, and two candles.”’ A less prosperous tenant had to bring their own (Gies).

Another manor connected to an abbey required the tenant bring “firewood, dish, mug, and napkin but the lord provided bread, broth, and beer and two kinds of meat.” And in a real treat, “the villeins were entitled to sit drinking after dinner in the manor hall” (Gies).

Other parts of the medieval Christmas celebrations were just as interesting as the food. If you’d like a really quick and fun read, I recommend a British website, part of a teachers’ groups of pages: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_xmas.htm.

And if you want to try frumenty or learn to make sugarplums or check out other medieval recipes, try http://www.godecookery.com/mtrans/mtrans15.htm.

BTW. I remember my great-grandmother making her own mincemeat and we always had real mincemeat pie for Christmas at her house (on the farm). I was really young, but I remember being revolted when my mom told me the pie really had meat in it. I thought that was so gross.

Does your family observe a tradition that can be traced to “early days?”

Sources: “Medieval Christmas.” History Learning Site. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_xmas.htm

Gies, Frances and Joseph. Daily Life in Medieval Times. New York: Barnes and Noble, (originally pubished by Harper Collins), 1990. 106-107.

Cosman, Dr.Madeleine Pelner. Medieval Holidays and Festivals: A Calendar of Celebrations. New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1981. 95-96.

MEDIEVAL MONDAY: WHAT’S FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER IN THE MIDDLE AGES?

Christmas in Merrie Olde England—when the “family dinner” took on new meaning. Researching for my medieval stories, I’ve run across some great tidbits about just how Christmas was celebrated some eight to nine hundred years ago. I thought it might be fun to look at the medieval lord and lady’s Christmas meal.

By the way: the medieval era encompasses several hundred years, so what may have held true in the Early Medieval years may have evolved by the High Medieval period.

According to several sources, serving Boar’s Head was traditional. The head was roasted and served with great ceremony, often with an apple or orange in its mouth (Cosman). The rest of the pig was served as bacon or in regular pork cuts. The people bringing this delicacy to the lord’s table would sing “the boar’s head carol” the chorus of which was: “The boar’s head in hand bring I, With garlands gay and rosemary, I pray you all sing merrily” (Cosman).

In the countryside, the wild boar’s head would likely be offered to “the goddess of farming” to ensure “a good crop in the following year”—a practice not sanctioned by the Church, of course.

There would be wild fowl, poultry including goose, and if the lord gives permission, swan. Often the skin of the fowl would be coated with oil and saffron to make it golden. Some sources report that in certain rich households the feathers might be carefully replaced on the swan, and the resulting main course carried to the high table with great ceremony.

Other meat included venison, which was a staple. But only the lord and lady, along with others of importance around the manor, got the good parts of the deer. The poor got what was left—the heart, liver, tongue, feet, ears and brains or the “umbles.” Those delicacies were cooked up, mixed with whatever else might be handy, and made into a pie. “Therefore, the poor would eat ‘umble pie.’ We still have that phrase when we say ‘eating humble pie.’

The Christmas pudding known as ‘frumenty’ was popular. Made of boiled wheat it was usually mixed with currents and dried fruit. (recipe link below). Then, of course, there was the mincemeat pie, made of real shredded meat, spices and fruit.

The lord of the manor usually provided Christmas dinner for his tenants—but they often had to bring their own food. And dishes. And cloths. And fuel to cook the food. Frances and Joseph Gies wrote: “Tenants…usually…owed the lord bread, hens, and ale, which they brewed themselves, while in return he gave the Christmas dinner, consisting mainly of the food they had provided….[T]he tenants often even provid[ed] their own fuel, dishes, and napkins.”

Here is an early image of a Medieval Christmas dinner featuring a roast peacock (rather than swan). Imagine what a time the cook had putting those feathers back on!

In the early 1300s, some prosperous tenants of one manor received “‘two white loaves, as much beer as they will drink in the day, a mess of beef and of bacon with mustard, one of browis [stew] of hen, and a cheese, fuel to cook their food…to burn from dinner time till even and afterwards, and two candles.”’ A less prosperous tenant had to bring their own (Gies).

Another manor connected to an abbey required the tenant bring “firewood, dish, mug, and napkin but the lord provided bread, broth, and beer and two kinds of meat.” And in a real treat, “the villeins were entitled to sit drinking after dinner in the manor hall” (Gies).

Other parts of the medieval Christmas celebrations were just as interesting as the food. If you’d like a really quick and fun read, I recommend a British website, part of a teachers’ groups of pages: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_xmas.htm.

And if you want to try frumenty or learn to make sugarplums or check out other medieval recipes, try http://www.godecookery.com/mtrans/mtrans15.htm.

BTW. I remember my great-grandmother making her own mincemeat and we always had real mincemeat pie for Christmas at her house (on the farm). I was really young, but I remember being revolted when my mom told me the pie really had meat in it. I thought that was so gross.

Does your family observe a tradition that can be traced to “early days?”

Sources: “Medieval Christmas.” History Learning Site. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_xmas.htm

Gies, Frances and Joseph. Daily Life in Medieval Times. New York: Barnes and Noble, (originally pubished by Harper Collins), 1990. 106-107.

Cosman, Dr.Madeleine Pelner. Medieval Holidays and Festivals: A Calendar of Celebrations. New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1981. 95-96.

MEDIEVAL MONDAY: MARY MORGAN’S NEWEST RELEASE BOUND TO BE ANOTHER FAVORITE

What a day –celebrating Medieval Monday And featuring my dear friend Mary Morgan with her new book, released last Monday. Wishes Under A Highland Star is another entry in her popular award-winner series, Order of the Dragon Knights. Welcome, Mary, and congratulations on the fantastic reviews this book is scoring. I’m reading it now–and loving it!! (P.S. Everyone–Watch the fabulous trailer for the book below.)

Happy Medieval Monday, Barbara! I’m delighted to be a guest on your lovely blog today! I’d like to share a wee bit about my new Scottish romance story, specifically two special characters.

Animals are dear to my heart and my reason to include them as secondary characters within all my stories. They offer a unique, often comical, element to any scene. I can’t imagine not having any fur or feathered friend in one of my books.

In Wishes, there are two special characters who brought another dimension to the story. One is an owl called Mab, and the other is Etain, an aging wolfhound. They both made me chuckle on several occasions. Yet Etain stole my heart. This wolfhound silently wove her way into the first scene with Aine Fraser. In truth, I believe she took complete control and ruled it over Aine. As the author of this story, I merely followed along. I couldn’t argue with the majestic animal.

Let me give you a glimpse into a scene with Aine, Etain, and Mab from Wishes Under a Highland Star

“Do ye trust me?” whispered Aine, treading carefully across the moss-laden path between the pines. Dead leaves and twigs crunched under her booted feet as she peered ahead at her destination. Moonlight dusted the path in front of them, giving her hope they were drawing near.

The wolfhound padded around in front of her and slipped away under a heaving branch.

“’Tis not the way I wish to travel,” she bit out into the chilled night air.

Halting her steps, Aine drew her cloak more firmly over her head. She dared not shout at the animal for fear the dog would wander on without her. I should not have brought ye with me.

She knelt on one knee and pounded the moist ground with her fist. Waiting a few more heartbeats, Aine grew impatient.

When the dog refused to emerge, she blew the words outward. “Return to me, Etain. I will not ask ye again,” she warned.

An owl hooted from above her. Aine grimaced at the intruder and slowly rose to standing. “Are ye saying I should do her bidding, Mab? Does she seek the same place as I?”

Dark eyes shone back at her as she glanced upward. Aine shook her head. “Give me an answer, Mab, or I shall go forth alone.”

When the owl remained silent, Aine tapped her foot in annoyance.

“Perchance I am the fool?” Quickly realizing her mistake, she held out her hand. “Nae, do not answer that question.”

The owl ruffled its feathers and turned away from her.

Resigned, Aine uttered a curse and followed after the wolfhound.

Tree limbs smacked at her along the way, their sting mocking her attempt toward her goal. Twice, Aine slipped, and twice she reminded herself she should have ventured forward on the other path. Though the moon’s light was a beacon on this misty night, she feared the animal was leading her back to the protection of warm shelter and comforts of its bed.

“Never again will I bring ye on a journey at night, Etain. Are your bones too weary for the adventure? I did warn ye the night’s icy fingers would creep through your thick fur. But nae, ye chose to come with me.”

Aine’s breath billowed white puffs around her as she trudged on through the dense trees and an unfamiliar path.

Slipping on a patch of mud, she quickly grasped the nearest branch to right herself. “There shall be nae kind words when I set my eyes on ye, beast.”

She wiped her bruised hand down her cloak and cast a furtive glance upward. As the mists parted, the stars hung heavy against the black night. Yet something appeared wrong. Frowning, Aine took in the other stars. “’Tis as if the Gods and Goddesses shook out their brilliance and reordered them.”

Blurb:

As chieftain for his clan, Alex MacFhearguis struggles with the burden of an unwanted responsibility. With the midwinter feast approaching, he flees his castle to find comfort and solitude within the forest. Yet on his quest, Alex stumbles into a world filled with magic, mysteries, and a woman with beguiling eyes who could capture his heart.

When half-Fae Aine Fraser makes a powerful wish, her simple request unlocks the magic she possesses and brings forth a Highlander into her world. Though the man has lost all his memories, she finds her attraction growing for this brooding warrior with each passing day. Unable to deny her feelings, Aine risks everything when she confesses her greatest secret.

Can a beauty who wished for a champion tame the beast of Leòmhann Castle?

Available from these online retailers:

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/31DeYa

About the Author

Multi award-winning paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic and Norse mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of fantasy, then travel back in time within the pages of her books.

Connect with Mary here ~

Website/Blog:  https://www.marymorganauthor.com/

Amazon Author:  http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Morgan/e/B00KPE3NWI/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryMorganAuthor/

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/m_morganauthor

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8271002.Mary_Morgan

Pinterest:  www.pinterest.com/marymorgan50/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marymorgan2/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-morgan

Audible: https://www.audible.com/author/Mary-Morgan/B00KPE3NWI

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-morgan-2634a77a/ 

AND WATCH THE EXCITING TRAILER FOR THE BOOK HERE:

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