OTLEY AND DISTRICT MEN’S FORUM

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  Christmas Customs
Dr B Boffey
  

If you are fed up of going Christmas Shopping blame the Romans.  It all started with their pagan festivals which gradually developed into the relatively modern Christmas celebration that our speaker Dr Brian Boffey described as a wonderful and happy time in his talk “Christmas Customs”.

 Saturnalia and Kalends were the two festivals that influenced our way of celebrating Christmas. We followed Saturnalia, a celebration of Saturn the god of sowing, by adopting its four tenets. The giving of gifts, reversal of rank, appreciation of greenery and of light are the principles that are followed to this day.

 The holly and the ivy are greenery brought into the house. These were later followed by the Christmas tree first brought from Germany to Britain by Prince Albert the consort of Queen Victoria . A poem in the New Yorker in 1820 about Father Christmas was probably the start of the commercial Christmas and the inducement to spend more than you can afford on presents. Although initially the serving of food to their slaves by Roman owners was the original role reversal it is still continued in the Armed Forces where Commissioned Officers serve the Ranks. And of course candles and Christmas lights imitate the last of the tenets. One of the gifts is food and our attitude to this is clearly illustrated by the Italian saying “As busy as a British oven at Christmas”.


This meeting, also attended by Otley Ladies Forum, was the penultimate one of the year. Our last meeting of 2008 is in The Main Hall of Otley Civic Centre at 10-00am on Thursday 18th December when Mr T Eaton will tell us about being a Teenage Pit Boy. 

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