Everything in sight is bedecked with evergreen garlands and we have already eaten our weight in ginger nut stars, why, it must be Christmas at Beamish!
We have been the busiest of bees (or should it be elves?) in the Food Team in these last few weeks. Piping bags have been filled and refilled, sweets have been bagged and quickly gobbled, and mulled wine seem to always be present in mitten-clad hands – sounds like the perfect Christmas.
One of the things we have been especially busy with this year are our Christmas hampers, they look and taste delicious. We have been honing (which therefore includes some serious sampling) its contents after we did them for the first time last year, started by the lovely Laura and the rest of the bakery team. We think we have got a pretty good combination, including scrummy biscuits in seasonal shapes, mini plum cakes with jewel-like decorations and the crowning glory of a star biscuit Christmas tree in the centre, for the whole family to share.
The traditional Christmas that we naturally think of, with the evergreen tree in the front room, pulling crackers and exchanging cards, can be largely attributed to the Victorians (just in time for our 1900s Town and Pit Village). Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularised a whole new way of celebrating Christmas, with their many children as the main focus and German traditions seeping into our British ones. As well as the impact of the royal family, there was a growing commercialisation of the festive period which still continues to grow, hence Christmas carols playing in shops in October!
There was also a book published in this period which had a lasting legacy on our celebration of Christmas; Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his salvation struck a chord with the strong morals of the Victorian era, and many stereotypical aspects of Christmas are included in this book. Some becoming the blueprint for years to come; a huge feast with a turkey at its centre, the importance of goodwill and the general feeling of magic in the air at Christmastime!
If you read the book or watch one of the brilliant adaptations (the one with the furry puppets is my absolute favourite, in case you were wondering) you can see many of our must-haves for Christmas, combined for the first time by Mr Dickens!
Along with lots of seasonal treats everywhere you turn (if you really need to well and truly warm yourself up try one of The Sun Inn’s winter warmers…crikey!) there is just a lovely feel of Christmas everywhere you turn at the museum – the twinkling lights on The Town street, the frost-covered fields around Pockerley and roaring fires pretty much everywhere! Pop along and squeeze us into your usual festive celebrations, for an authentic taste (literally) of Christmas!