Thursday, December 27, 2012

So We Invited Ourselves to Dinner!

Wouldn't you?  This is the classic English Trifle

We have friends from Great Britain and when I read briefly  about their traditional Boxing Day celebration (a national holiday across the land) I wondered what they did to celebrate?  No point in wondering when I had a source that could tell me.  Subsequent e-mails...

Angie - A modest proposal.  If you will allow us into your home to see how Boxing Day is celebrated, I'll bring the dinner.  (sign) How I long to hear the ancient songs and see the celebratory dances...9a

Nina - Sure.  Come ahead.  We may be wearing pajamas, which is a custom on that day.

A - Do guests wear pajamas, too, or only the natives?  I want to do the right thing...9a

9a - It's optional ... but beware, as we are armed with cameras. A

A - Cool for me.  I wear a hooded track suit, but, uh, Richie sleeps in the nude.  He does pull on sweats and slippers to go out and get the newspapers - is that okay?  9a

Nina!  I'm trying to poke a mental needle into my eye to erase that vision!

Come to find out, no one wore pajamas, there were no ancient songs nor celebratory dances unless you count Angie and their two year old daughter gyrating in front of a kids' program on TV.

John's Mom said that Boxing Day is related to the much older St. Stephen's Day or St. Stephen's Feast.  In Ireland, it commemorates the biblical stories of Jesus, a wren and St. Stephen, an early martyr who was stoned to death for heresy.  His tomb wasn't found until 415 AD.  The day itself is celebrated December 26th in Western churches and December 27th in Eastern churches.

The Irish put on old clothes, don straw hats and take a faux dead wren in a little box from door to door, begging for a penny to bury the poor wren.  This dates back to the Middle Ages, but is said to be waning in popularity now, unfortunately.  How cool would it be to have a stranger, dressed like a bum show up at your front door, holding a box with a dead bird in it, asking for pennies to bury their poor  bird!  ("Richie - get the camera quick!")

Boxing Day is a national holiday (12/26) and dates back to the time when great houses had oceans of servants.  Naturally, the servants worked Christmas Day to serve the lords and ladies and their families, but were given the next day off to go visit their own families.  Traditionally, the Master gave them each a box filled with things for said families.

The traditional foods on Boxing Day are Christmas  leftovers in a buffet and a Trifle for dessert.  This is a heavenly light concoction of:  a sponge cake bottom, well marinated in booze, topped by a cream pudding which is then topped with clouds of whipped cream and sparkly, colored sugar.

When we invited ourselves to dinner, we didn't know this would be the dessert.  Thank God we were so rude!

No comments: