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This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less

This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less


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A classic Thanksgiving dinner for 10 will cost 24 cents less than it did last year

Last year, the average price for a Thanksgiving dinner surpassed $50.

A price drop in Thanksgiving essentials, such as turkey and pumpkin pie, will save you a little more money during this year’s holiday season.

According to an informal price survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the average cost for a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner this year is $49.87, compared to $50.11 last year.

The grocery items included in the holiday feast survey were turkey, bread, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, veggie trays, pumpkin pie, whipped cream, coffee, and milk.

“Consumers will pay less than $5 per person for a classic Thanksgiving dinner this year,” said Dr. John Newton, the federation’s director of marketing intelligence.

On average, a 16-pound turkey costs $22.74 this year, a 30-cent drop from 2015. Additionally, a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, one gallon of milk, and a one-pound tray of celery and carrots saw price drops as well to $3.13, $3.17, and 73 cents, respectively.

“Due to a significant expansion in global milk production, prices fell to the lowest levels since 2009, leading to lower retail milk and dairy product prices,” Newton said. “Additionally, this year's pumpkin prices are slightly lower following the production decline and higher prices seen in 2015.”

The 2016 survey was conducted by 148 volunteer shoppers who checked prices of Thanksgiving dinner staples at grocery stores in 40 states.


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:


This Year’s Holiday Feast Will Cost a Little Less - Recipes

Haill, Yule! Haill!

Such festivity was true in medieval times as well, though there are striking differences in what was eaten and served at Christmas time then as compared to now. Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods as there are now mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be eaten at Christmas. Much of the festivity that revolved around food seemed to be not in what was being offered, but in how it was offered, the quantities that were available, and in the act of sharing a meal and eating together. Several dishes of healthy, tasty food and ale to last a day, along with fuel for cooking and warmth, and candles to light the long evening, was an honored and acceptable gift from the lord to his villeins. In some recorded cases, the gift of food for the day was as simple as a loaf of bread, ale to drink, and some firewood. Many lords would invite their workers and serfs to the manor for Christmas dinner in most cases, though, the food, serving utensils, and even the fuel for cooking were usually provided by the villeins themselves. It seems the real spirit of the moment was seen in the communal exchange of food and the enjoyment of feasting with friends in front of the burning Yule Log of the lord's hearth.

There are some food rules to remember when composing an authentic medieval feast as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast, or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period one would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.

And there were a few foods did became associated with Christmas at this time: the Boar's Head, which still today holds great connotations of Yule, and Plum Pudding & Mincemeat Pie, two treats also contemporarily linked with the holiday. However, these foods were also quite common during the rest of the year the Boar's Head was found at many great dinners, being considered an honored dish at all times. Plum Pudding would have been eaten whenever economy and season dictated. And Mincemeat Pie (made with real meat) was simply yet another medieval-style meat pie with a heavy dried fruit base. Still, the medieval population found these dishes particularly appealing at Christmas, and the Boar's Head was considered so standard that if a real one could not be acquired, a faux presentation made of cake or other foods was more than acceptable.

By medieval times, the game of the Bean King or Mock King was old enough to be considered "ancient." This was a cake or a loaf of bread which had hidden in it a small object, such as a bean. Whoever found the bean in their portion was proclaimed the Bean King, and presided as a humorous ruler over the Christmas festivities. In some cultures the Bean cake was shaped like a crown and was associated with the Three Wise Kings.

---------- A Christmas Eve dinner and A Christmas Day dinner ----------

The Advent fast, prohibiting meat, chicken, milk, cheese, butter, etc. (i.e., virtually all animal products), and lasting a time period that included the four Sundays preceding Yule, was THE primary motivation for the festal consumption of food during a medieval Christmas. This simple fact should always be kept in mind when planning a medieval feast in an authentic manner. Christmas itself ran from Christmas Day up through Epiphany, or Twelfth Day (January 6). The rules and standards of food at Christmas time lasted for this entire 12 day period.

A Christmas Eve dinner should be composed of medieval dishes that are for fish-days, fast-days, Ember days, and for Lent. (Ember Days were four significant fast-days held during Lent, just after Pentecost, September, and in December during Advent.) These sorts of recipes are usually clearly denoted in medieval cooking manuscripts, and can be found throughout the recipe sections of Gode Cookery. Exotic and varied viands of fish & seafood should dominate: grilled, fried, roasted, baked fish, etc. with a variety of sauces oysters, mussels, crabs, lobster, clams, and assorted shellfish (such as periwinkles) are very acceptable and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Almond milk should be the ingredient used for sauces, as it was the main substitute for milk during a fast. Fried foods are prepared in olive & nut oils (see: Oils) rather than animal fats.

Medieval cooks came up with a variety of ways to circumvent the restrictions of a fast-day: mock cheese was made out of fish and almond milk, fish was made to taste like meat, etc. And some people relied on extremes in common food beliefs to see them through their fast: beaver tail (a high source of fat & protein) was acceptable as the beaver lived in water, like a fish ordinary geese were often identified as being the mythical Barnacle Goose by both sellers and consumers alike. The Barnacle Goose, being a product of the ocean, was not a true land-goose and therefore was not restricted. Therefore, if the cook or host of a Christmas Eve dinner wishes to serve goose, it may be done so, but only in the honest faith that it is a true Barnacle Goose that is being served! (Imagine a platter of Barnacle Goose surrounded by oysters, mussels, clams, etc. Yum!)

Bread, cheese, ale, & wine should be included with the foods of both a Christmas Eve or a Christmas Day dinner.

A medieval Christmas Day dinner could be composed of rich and extravagant dishes, heavy with meat and sweets, and laden with delicacies and treats or, an equally authentic way to eat would be to have simple but hearty dishes like stewed chicken or beef, or pork, ham or bacon served with mustard, along with cheese, bread and ale. The choice is yours, as was our medieval predecessors. Certainly, the Boar's Head should be included in any large dinner or party, whether real or made of cake, as well as Plum Pudding, Mincemeat Pie, and such treats as gingerbread, spiced wines, etc. Venison was a popular meat at Christmas, and possibly represented about 1/4 of all meat eaten at that time, according to household records. Goose, duck, hen, and an enormous range of fowl & poultry served in or with a variety of sauces dishes of beef, pork, & rabbit prepared in numerous ways rich soups and thick pottages and stews a plethora of sweets and desserts - the list of acceptable foods that are authentic, delectable, and highly appropriate for a Christmas Feast would be a long one! Any documented, authentic recipe found in A Boke of Gode Cookery which is not intended as a fast-day item would be more than suitable.

And don't forget about the Bean Cake! More about it HERE.

Decorating the home with greenery during the holiday has been a custom since the Roman festival of Saturnalia, and has been documented as having occurred in London as early as the 12th century. The Medieval dinner table or dining hall can be suitably garnished with holly, evergreen, etc., just like today.

Singing carols at a Christmas dinner was such an expected activity that paid carolers and minstrels were often included in the budgets of large feasts. Other entertainments, such as masques and mummery, were also very common.

To compose your Christmas feast menu in a medieval manner, please visit Messe It Forth.

---------- What the Experts Have to Say ----------

Fast and Feast by Bridget Ann Henisch is filled with detailed and fascinating information on all aspects of food in Medieval society. Here is what the author has to say on Christmas:



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