Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Seasonal Take on the A to Z Challenge from Hilary Melton-Butcher

A – Z: seasonal take for The Blogging 

from A to Z Challenge ...

see how easy it can be ... an ABC of the Aspects of the British Countryside to an A – Z about our Christmastide ... come join the fun – April First 2012 is our starting day – but you’re not a fool to take part ...

The Nativity
by Charles-Francois Poerson, 1667
Advent – from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” – Advent Sunday is the start of the Advent season – fourth Sunday before Christmas Day.

Brandy Butter – an essential addition for Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies

Christmas – Christ’s Mass is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes maesse, a phrase first recorded in 1038.

 Deck the Halls: 
Green Holly and Ivy
Decorations – from pre-Christian times, people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter.  In the 15th Century in London it was the custom for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm (Holm Oak), ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season the year afforded to be green.  “Deck the Halls” ... a traditional Yuletide/Christmas carol and New Year carol.

Extras: Bread sauce, chestnut stuffing, bacon rolls, turkey gravy from the juices, cranberry sauce, bowls of nuts, custard, creams and chocolates ...  

Family Christmas
Feast 1940s
Flowers to decorate the table – Christmas roses, hollywreaths ...

Grandparents and all family the essentials to Christmastide ...

Holly – was seen as a protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the Crucifixion and the blood he shed.

Ivy – the heart shaped leaves are said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus

Mistletoe postcard,
circa 1902
Jingle Bells – an American secular Christmas song

Karpfen in Bier: a traditional Christmas Eve dish in Germany – “Carp in Beer” ... poached, served with a sauce made from the liquor, with brown ale and gingerbread

Leftovers ... sliced ham or turkey, chipolatas, devils on horseback (bacon wrapped around prunes), fresh bread, baked potatoes, pickles and salads ...  then bowls of rich turkey soup, turkey or ham ‘muck up’ ... fried Christmas pudding with brandy butter .... yummmeeee ....

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
at King’s College Cambridge
 – December 2010 – c/o Phillip Cooke
Mince Pies with brandy butter or cream – may be eaten before a snatched kiss under the mistletoe

N for Nativity – Commemoration of Jesus’ birth – popularised by Saint Francis of Assissi from 1223

O Little Town of Bethlehem – one of many traditional Christmas Carols sung in Church or at Carol Services

Plum Pudding .... on which a sprig of holly is set, brandy poured over and set alight, before being served with brandy butter, cream or custard ...

Trafalgar Square, London
– Christmas Tree
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Britain: they were enamoured seeing a tree hung with lights, ornaments and presents placed around.

Remember our loved ones – with a Christmas card, personal telephone call or special handwritten letter --- especially those thank you letters and cards.

Christmas stocking
Santa Claus – leave out gifts for Santa to thank him for his visit  ... Stilton, Mince Pies with a glass of sherry

Tradition – Christmas is a strong Christian tradition, from which over time a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed, that incorporate regional and local cultures.

Units of weight – you’ll be dieting off in January 2012 – sorreeeeee!

Vegetables – roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, roast onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots, red cabbage ...

Wassail Cup
Wassail cup – historically mulled cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger spices, roasted cider apples to decorate and topped with slices of toast, acting as sops.

X - the great unknown .... xxx or perhaps that KISS under the Mistletoe

Yule Log: Buche de Noel – a traditional dessert served at Christmas time particularly in francophone countries and former French colonies.  A sponge cake in the form of a log – filled with chocolate buttercream, covered in a chocolate ganache or frosting, decorated with powdered sugar to resemble snow.

Z       Zizz it all off – just don’t hibernate ‘til April ....

Blogging from A - Z
Lee’s great suggestion of the A – Z posts can be filled with so many ideas ...  good for our creativity, while greeting old friends and meeting new bloggers – come join the fun.

I so enjoyed the Challenge last year - thanks so much Lee for the Christmas opportunity – Happy Christmastide to one and all .. with a very successful 2012 ahead ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher

         And as Hilary says, The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is as easy as ABC.   Come join us.  Sign ups will begin on January 30, 2012.  Thank you, Hilary, for this special holiday A to Z post.


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senses of soul said...

come here from Malaysia =)

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I love love love Hilary's posts. This is awesome--symbols of Christmas.

Since I am a Christian, this is a Holy celebration for me. I need to remind myself of this as I get crazy with the commercial trappings.

A-Z and Christmas.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mohd - nice to meet you ... all the way from Malaysia .. look how far the A - Z stretches ..

@ Teresa .. great to see you and many thanks ... It is Christmas - the birth of Christ as you say .. but it is so easy to get carried away ..

The symbolism back through the eras is so interesting to find out about ...

@ Lee - wonderful introduction - many thanks .. the A - Z Challenge will certainly be bigger, better and bolder in 2012 ...

Congratulations to all who will be taking part .. cheers and enjoy your A - Z of Christmas first ..

Blessings - Hilary

Slamdunk said...

Well, you have me in the festive mood. I am all about the "extras."

Old Kitty said...

Awwww love that x is for kisses under the mistletoe! Yay for a most wonderful and festive a-z! Thanks Hilary, thanks Lee! Take care


Excellent post. loved reading it.


Karen Walker said...

Totally awesome, Hilary (and Lee). You guys rock!

J.D. Meier said...

Well done.

Grandparents really are essential to the holiday spirit, whether you have some, know some, or are one.

Unknown said...

Awesome! I'm so glad you doing this, Hilary. I'm going to do it too.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hilary - You really went all out with this one, complete with clever ideas and festive photos! Now I'm in the holiday spirit, as well as the A to Z spirit! You did a fantastic job conveying the mood of the whole experience! Merry Christmas, and I can't wait to join you in the April Challenge! Julie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Slamdunk - when we talk about the festivities .. it does pull us in .. and those "Extras" .. or I think I might prefer the "Leftovers" ...!

@ Old Kitty - glad you enjoyed the XXX under the mistletoe - Charlie will too?!

@ Yvonne - thanks v much ..

@ Karen .. thanks - it's all down to Lee he does all the organising for us ...

@ JD - thanks for coming over here - JD's Marketing post link is on my site - well worth looking at ..

You picked the best .. Grandparents .. mine are now long gone ... but they draw the family together .. and the little ones love them.

@ Julie - I think I put Lee through his paces to get the photos up and in 'my usual places'! Great job Lee ..

It is all inspiring for the Christmas spirit - not sure if I'm more excited for Christmas .. but then there's something to look forward to in April. Best of both worlds ..

Great to see you all - thanks Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Wonderful list, Hilary. I didn't know the part about Queen Victoria. See! I learn something new from you every time. marvellous.

Davina Haisell said...

Hi Lee! This was was a fun read.

Hilary, you did a great job on this. I laughed out loud at "units of weight." I've never heard of Brandy Butter before. Sounds tasty!

Anand said...

A to Z of blogging... great list :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joylene .. many thanks - I think those two lovebirds popularised it .. as Queen Caroline had had one - but it was PA - who brought one over for Victoria and it's here for ?ever more. It's a lovely story though.

@ Davina - what a surprise - welcome back .. thanks .. I'm glad you enjoyed the Units of Weight .. well we'll all have that won't we!

Brandy Butter - you can't have mince pies, or Christmas pud without Brandy butter .. butter, icing sugar and brandy ... good to fry up left overs too?!

@ Anand .. good to see you ..

Cheers Joylene, Davina and Anand .. Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It is easy! Once I hit upon the idea to feature my blogger buddies during the Challenge, I had no problem filling up the posts.

Joanne said...


From A to Z, I read with Glee ...
It's classic Hilary, to a T!

A fun read, sending along Holiday Cheers :)

Chase March said...

Hi Hilary,

I have never tried this challenge. Perhaps I should tackle it next year. Oh, but Script Frenzy is in April too. Could be a busy month.

Susan Kane said...

Hilary, that was awesome, and inspiring. I love the "U" for units of weight to lose after Christmas!

MISH said...

This is sooooo cool!
Puts one in a festive mood and creates a hype for the A-Z Challenge... a DOUBLE-WHAMMY!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex - it surprised me too .. once I'd worked out the Aspects of the British Countryside .. I thoroughly enjoyed my time - and definitely the months since.

@ Joanne - great poem .. thanks .. delighted to see you here.

@ Chase - I think it'll be great for you .. you could do the ABCs of School ...

@ Susan - thanks so much .. the "U" suddenly came to me ..

@ Mish - great .. delighted to read it's put you in the festive mood, while creating some hype for the April 2012 A - Z ..

Thanks everyone .. lovely seeing you here .. Hilary

baygirl32 said...

Great post indeed. I could use some Brandy Butter and Extras right now!

Southpaw said...

Hilary that was marvelous!

Golden Eagle said...

I love this take on A-Z! And I learned some things, too. :)

Pearson Report said...

Like Eagle, I like this too! What a wonderful way of showcasing this Holiday Season with a little A to Z eggnog!

You certainly know your way around the alphabet Hilary - and I'd be hard pressed to pick just one of the letters as a favourite - you've made all of them sound very festive!


Scarlett Clay said...

LOVE this!!! Thanks so much, I really enjoyed it.

What's in a mince pie, anyway? :)


Arlee Bird said...

It's been great to see today's turnout and hope we'll continue to get the same as this series goes on.

Thank you Hilary for this festive and inventive piece of blogging. You really were quite a hit today.

Tomorrow we will be treated to the poetry of Yvonne Lewis.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ BayGirl - brandy butter is always good to have around - but seems to come out at Christmastime. The extras are good too ..

@ Holly - thank you

@ Golden Eagle - delighted you picked up some snippets of new information ..

@ Jenny - ah! eggnog - not one of my favourites .. hence no entry! But a good seasonal drink .. seen that mentioned around the blogosphere recently.

Glad you enjoyed each of the alphabet letters - they'd be upset if you didn't like the whole! That would be a good story line wouldn't it ..?

@ Scarlett - thankyou .. delighted you appreciated it so much ..

Mince pies - started off as meat pies way back when, then fruits and spices got added in, then the size reduced to small pies .. and by Victorian times the meat was omitted, sugar added and today's mince pies were born.

They're delicious .. sweet flaky pastry pie, filling of mince meat .. juicy spices, fruits, suet, grated apple, melted sugar, .. topped with pastry topped .. baked and sprinkled with castor sugar (fine sugar, not icing - though can use that too).

Mince meat can be bought in jars .. and sometimes a little brandy is added in .. but the bought mince meat is quite tasty .. Wikipedia has quite a short historical take with some photos on it ...

Hope that helps Scarlett?

@ Lee - many thanks .. this was a fun post to write up .. brought back many memories .. and thanks so much for getting the pictures up!

Cheers everyone .. and here's looking forward to Yvonne's poem today .. Hilary

Sarah Tokeley said...

I love this list, and you make it seem so easy :-)

Patricia said...

What fun is found here - loved the Christmas list...good words are hard to find! NOT

Thank you all and big hugs to Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sarah .. thank you and I hope you'll be with us next April!

@ Patricia .. it was fun finding suitable A - Zs .. many thanks and hugs back ..

Cheers Sarah and Patricia .. Lee's doing a fantastic promotional job for the A - Z Challenge .. Hilary

Shannon Lawrence said...

Wonderful! Got me in the mood for the A-to-Z AND the holidays! Also, now I'm hungry...

Karen Lange said...

What a clever post! We can always count on you, Hilary, to brighten our day and keep us informed in an engaging and fun way. Thanks, Lee, for hosting Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Shannon - thank you .. I enjoyed putting it together ... and I get hungry as I go along thinking of things ..

@ Karen - thank you - glad you enjoyed the A,B and Cs of Christmas .. great to see you here ..

Cheers to you both .. Hilary

Unknown said...

What a great post, Hilary. You've filled me with Christmas spirit. Brandy butter and extras for me. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shirley .. great to see you here .. Christmas Spirit is lingering here - waiting for the Mince Pies and brandy butter to arrive! Glad you enjoyed it - thank you .. Hilary

lisa bennett said...

loved the blog hilary. from lisa bennett from coppice court. well done again

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lisa .. thanks for commenting .. see you tomorrow! Cheers Hilary