For example, the Yule logwas a popular
tradition with the Druids during this time. They would bless a log, and then keep it burning for twelve days in a row. The
remaining part of the log was then kept to be used the next year, when it was used to help light the new Yule log.
This log played an important part in cultural
life. The Druids would often carve symbols of evil or other bad things into the log in hopes that by burning it, they would
go away. This added to the festive air of the season, since it represented a time of renewal.
Wassail is a very popular and delicious warm cider drink. The word wassail means
health," or "be well." During medieval times, wassail was made with ale,
spices, and honey or other sweeteners. Guests
would offer the drink as a token
of well wishes.
Today, people still drink wassail, whether
it contains alcohol or not, and many simply call it hot cider.
Of course, the Christmas feast was
also an important part of the holiday during the medieval period. Goose was commonly served (instead of turkey or ham), as
well as "humble pie" which contained the body parts of a deer such as the liver and brains. Many people claim that this is
where the saying "eat your humble pie" originated.
Over the ages, trees have been an important
symbol, both for the holidays as well as for a way of life. The Druids revered the oak and evergreen, and they symbolized
life and luck.
Vikings would hang items on the branches and, in the middle
ages, apples were hung on Christmas Eve. This is said to be the origin of ornaments and
the use of Christmas trees in the home.
Other plants such as holly and ivy were
also integral in home décor during the
Entertainment played an important
role as well. Christmas carols were sung and short plays called liturgical dramas (similar to the modern Christmas
pageant) were performed in churches and in gathering places.
While not all traditions for Christmas came
from the people of the middle ages,
some of the most significant were observed by the people of that time and they
live on today....