This festival is not of divine institution or is it easy to assign the first period of observing it, although it was certainly kept before the age of Constantine.
Much uncertainty prevails with respect to the actual day of Christ's birth; it most probably took place at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, judging from other events on record, but the season which the Church has fixed upon for its celebration, does not involve the credibility of the fact.
It was named Christmas Day from the Latin Christ Misse, the Mass of Christ, and thence the Roman Catholic Church termed the Liturgy their Missal or Mass Book, and among that sect, about the year 500, the observation or this day became general.
In the primitive Church, Christmas Day was always preceded by an Eve or Vigil; when the devotion of the Eve was completed, our forefathers used to light up candles of different sizes which were called Christmas candles; and to lay a log of wood upon the fire, called the Yule log.
A kind of baby or little image, intended to represent Jesus, and called the Yule-dough, was formerly made at this season, and presented by the bakers to their customers and in some parts of the northern counties of Britain, the people after service, would cry. " Ule, ule, ule," as a token of rejoicing and run through the streets calling,
" Ule, ule, ule, ule,
Three puddings in a pule,
Crack nuts and cry Ule."
Carols, formerly sung at this season of the year were festal chansons for enlivening the merriments of Christmas celebrity, and not such religious songs currently sung by people today under the same title of Carol, and which were substituted by those enemies of innocent and useful mirth, the Puritans.
The boar's head soused, was anciently the first dish on Christmas Day and was carried up to the principal table in the hall, with great state and solemnity, The Boar's Head Carol being sung at the time; the old song, with some variations, since the 15th century is still sung in Queen's College, Oxford, and sung annually on Christmas Day, when a boar's head is carved up as the chief dish.
These days we settle for ham.
Many Boar's Head festivals are held all over the world. This Boar's Head Fesitval held in 2010 is a preview for those who have not been to one.
The Great Barons and Knights throughout the kingdom of Great Britain, formerly kept open house during Christmas, when their villains or vassals were entertained with bread, beef, and beer, pudding and wassail cake.
A groat of silver was given to the guests when leaving.
The tradition of the silver groat or coin still remains in my own family, but with a little variation.
My christmas puddings which I make in the traditional way, as did my mother and several generations before her, on the 16 November, the feast day of St.Margaret of Scotland. It has always been on this day, for at the same time we celebrate our McAlpin Clan heritage.
I add to the puddings silver threepences and sixpences saved from the pre-decimal era, which I now have to buy back from those who are lucky enough to find one in their pudding. The little ones not minding at all about a swap for gold dollar coin.
May your Christmas be filled with joy and merriment, hope and fulfilment, family and friends and I wish you all kindness and contentment.