La mi Navidad enferma en Mexico (my sick Christmas in Mexico) seems to have taken me back to England and in particular London Town. Around the table at Park Road, our 'manor house' in which we celebrated life, Christmas was a simple but festive occasion. We drew names and took great pains in wrapping the gifts as I recall. We spent our Christmas morning taking turns opening our gifts from each other and usually a little something from home, ooooing and awwing, laughing and enjoying each others company. Dinner was a feast around a simple table in the lounge as our kitchen was not big enough to handle the occupants of Park Road and any guests we may have invited. Those memories are precious. I lived with Australian woman who have all stayed in my life for the past forty two years. An amazing group which was definitely destined to spend time together and bond.
Viewing this video of Christmas at The Tower of London made me realize how much I enjoy Historical Reinactment Entertainment and conjured up memories of another wonderful evening at Hatfield House just outside of London. Elizabeth I, in her youth, was held at Hatfield, virtually under house arrest, while her future was planned and plotted. Wandering in the gardens that evening, a glass of cognac in hand, history seeped into my pours and ran through my veins. Later in the great hall, we cavorted with Elizabeth and her court, enjoyed a banquet of Elizabethan delights, drank mead, delighted in dancing with members of the court and being entertained by jesters, fire eaters and strolling minstrels. At one point the Queen came before my Papa, commanding "On your feet, M'Lord. Dance with your Queen". I remember at the time we booked, thinking this was probably a very 'touristie' event to attend, however totally changed my mind when the most professional troup of actors and actresses whisked us back in time five hundred years without us even knowing we had been transported. I don't remember what prompted the invitation, however we were invited to journey back to London on the bus with the troup. Enjoying the relaxed merriment, camaraderie and singing was remarkable. One of those nights in my life I shall cherish.
Historical reinactment entertainment was not as common at that time, and with my imagination it was a most magical night. I was indeed 'there', an integral part of Elizabeths' court, being twirled around the great hall by handsome courtiers, five hundred years earlier. A little like a time machine. Returning from the quiet of a country house, into the bright lights and buzz of London, I had to shake it off and return to the present.
The twelve days of Christmas would have been a most welcome break for the workers on the land, which long ago would have been the majority of the people. All work, except for looking after the animals, would stop.
The Christmas season used to last much longer (until 2 February), but people wanted the peasants to get back to work earlier, and so the festive season was shortened so that it ended on Twelfth Night. The first Monday following Epiphany (Twelfth Day) was called Plough Monday, because it was the time the farm workers were expected to return to the fields.