News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. The plum pudding riots

    After the defeat of Charles I and the English Civil War in the 1640s, Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector over what was termed the Commonwealth.  Cromwell was a puritan, which was a strict Christian movement, and which sought to rid Britain of activities deemed immoral, sinful, corruptible or non-Christian.

    The puritans saw Christmas as a Roman Catholic celebration with no relevance to the bible. In fact, they deemed it as an immoral festival that enticed debauchery and excessive drinking, and Cromwell set about banning all activities relating to Christmas.

    Parliament banned Christmas, together with celebrations for Easter and Whitsun (Pentecost). This involved a ban on anything associated with Christmas celebrations, including mince pies and plum pudding.  Soldiers even roamed the streets seizing food by force if they believed it be associated with a Christmas feast.  Church services were banned on Christmas day, and ministers who ignored this were taken into custody.

    Ordinary folk protested at these new laws, particularly when they were forced to keep their shops open on Christmas day.  Shopkeeper who refused to open their premises could have been sent to the stocks.  Locals were angry at this, and riots took place against the government legislation regarding Christmas in Canterbury, Norwich and Ipswich.

    Christmas continued to be celebrated, albeit in secret, and King Charles II reinstated Christmas once more on his restoration in 1660.

  2. Still struggling for a Christmas present?

    Are you still struggling to think of something special to give that someone special for Christmas? Do they have everything including the kitchen sink, and you don’t know what to get them?

    Why not think of giving them their family history for Christmas. Family history research is a unique gift to give a loved one, and one that they can keep forever, and pass on to other family members.

    Contact us today to find out more about our Christmas gift certificates.

  3. A perfect gift for Christmas

    Are you stuck for a gift idea for a loved one this Christmas?  Someone who is hard to buy for, or seems to have everything? Well worry no more, for why give them a gift certificate to have their family history traced for Christmas.  This is a truly unique present, and one that they will remember forever.

    We provide a stylish A4 certificate that can be given on Christmas day, and we can then liaise with them in the New Year to find out their particular areas of interest to start the genealogical investigation.

    Contact us today to find out more about purchasing a gift certificate for family history research for Christmas.

  4. A 17th Century Mince Pie Recipe

    Mince pies were once quite different from those we know of today. Originally filled with meat, such as lamb, goose or beef, they were larger than today’s and were  oval in shape to represent the manger that Jesus slept in. A tradition has it that if you eat a mince pie on every day of the twelve days of Christmas, you will have twelve months of happiness. Here’s a recipe for you to try, that your ancestor might once have used.a

  5. Genealogy the perfect Christmas Gift

    As Christmas draws closer, why not think about a unique gift for your loved one.  A Christmas Gift Certificate for family history research could be the perfect present for Christmas day.

    We can provide an attractive certificate to give as a gift on Christmas day, and then work with the recipient on the research after Christmas.  Why not contact us to find out more.

  6. Festive surnames

    Genealogist Liz Yule is used to festive jokes about her surname, but Yule is just one of a number of seasonal surnames that exist.  Christmas is of course the most festive example, particularly when coupled with the forename Mary.  But how about Bell, White or Snow?  Or those representing festive blooms, such as Ivy.

    Forenames can also be festive.  Our searchers have found two births registered with the forename Mistletoe, for example: Mistletoe Ellis was born in 1906 in Hampshire, whilst Mistletoe Spencer was born in 1910 in Doncaster.

    If you have festive or unusual names in your family tree, why not contact us to find out about researching your ancestry.

  7. Who invented the Christmas cracker?

    The British tradition of Christmas crackers has been around since the 1840s.  Originally called bonbons or Cosaque they were developed by one Tom Smith of London from bonbon sweets – of course, crackers look like a large sweet in a wrapper.  The sweet itself was later replaced by other, larger gifts, and it was Tom Smith’s son, Walter, who added in the paper hat.

    The company Tom Smith crackers still exists today, although is no longer family owned.

  8. The origin of carol singing.

    Our tradition of carol singers going from house to house is a result of carols being banned within churches in Medieval times, due to them disrupting the service.

    The word “carol”  means to sing and dance in a circle, deriving from the ancient Greek ‘choros’, which means “dancing in a circle,” and from the Old French word ‘carole’, a song to accompany dancing. Carols were introduced to Church services by St Francis of Assisi, and the tradition spread through Europe; however the intrusive nature of the singing and dancing led them to be banned from Church. The traditional time to sing carols is from St Thomas Day (21st December) until Christmas Day morning.

    Carols, alongside other traditional celebrations of Christmas, were banned completely from 1647-1660 by the Puritan government.

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