The History of Your Christmas Table
So where did that Christmas cracker come from?
Here at Homewood Park, we are committed to providing our guests with the perfect Christmas in Bath. To make sure that every last detail of our festive dining is perfect, we have drawn on the history books to understand a little more about what makes the perfect Christmas table…
Christmas Crackers were first sold in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century by London confectioner, Tom Smith. Smith had been travelling through France, and taken a fancy to the dainty ‘bon bon’ sweets that he found there. The traditional French bonbon consisted of a sugared almond wrapped in pretty paper wrapper. Smith brought this idea back to the UK, but Brits weren’t so keen on the fancy French confectionary. One night when sat by his crackling fire, the ingenious Tom Smith had the idea to add a little pop (not unlike that of the logs in the hearth) when the paper wrapping of the sweet was pulled in half. And so the cracker was born! Over the years the almond disappeared to be replaced by the now obligatory gift, joke and paper crown you find in today’s Christmas crackers.
Oh the lovely Christmas pudding. That heavy fruity cakey dumpling that we have to force down after eating a week’s worth of roast dinner. We’re sure you wouldn’t have it any other way, but you might not be so keen on the pudding’s ancestor, ‘frumenty’…
‘Frumenty’ was a sort of porridge-y concoction that originated somewhere in the 14th century and consisted of beef and mutton with raisins, currants, prunes, wines and spices. Not super appetising… Over time however, with the addition of eggs and flour and the removal of the meaty element, ‘frumenty’ morphed and changed into the plum pudding- far more akin to what we are used to today. The Christmas pudding has fought hard for its place on today’s Christmas table; having been banned by the puritans for being too indulgent, but we’re glad it muddled its way through.
Although it has become synonymous with Christmas, turkey has not always been the centrepiece of choice for a British festive feast. In fact, the turkey is an American import- first brought over during the infancy of American exploration by Yorkshireman William Strickland in 1526. Henry VIII was the first king to enjoy turkey at his Christmas table, where it replaced the more traditionally royal swan, or peacock. Though turkey first came to Britain as early as the 16th century, it was the reserve of the rich and did not become affordable for the masses until as late as the 1950s. Before this, a wide variety of meats were enjoyed at the Christmas table, from roast beef to goose and even pies.
Mulled wine has become a festive staple here in Britain, but where did it all start? Wine was first served warmed and spiced in Rome and it is thought that they brought the practice with them when they conquered and traded across Europe. It wasn’t until the 14th century, that the drink gained the prefix ‘mulled’. It is thought to come from an Old English word meaning ‘muddled’, referring to the process of mulling or muddling the wine as a way to save wine that was about to spoil. The warming drink has long been popular to keep hands and bellies toasty during the winter months, but did not become ubiquitously festive until Charles Dickens mentioned the beverage in his 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol.
Of course, at Homewood Park’s exquisite restaurant in Bath, we take tradition very seriously and we wouldn’t offer you any less than the finest traditional Christmas treats. If you choose to indulge in our Country Christmas Package, you will be welcomed to the hotel with a warming glass of delicious mulled wine. Or experience the delicate flavour of our mouth-watering Roast Norfolk Bronze Turkey with all the trimmings; available on each of our festive menus. Room for more? Then our Homemade Christmas Pudding served with Brandy Anglaise should do the trick. Don’t worry, no frumenty in sight!
To book your exclusive festive dining experience at Homewood Park, call us on 0122 572 3731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.