Thursday 14 December 2017

Christmas in the time of Alfred the Great ~ #history #Christmas @BritonandDane

Christmas in the time of Alfred the Great.
By Mary Ann Bernal.

Celebrating Christmas in the Ninth Century

The court of Alfred the Great was Christian, deferring to the Pope in Rome for religious guidance. King Alfred rigorously enforced the Church’s mandates from fasting during Lent to Almsgiving throughout the year, and not just at Christmastime.

Alfred the Great ~ Wikipedia
There was merrymaking and feasting, but it was also a solemn occasion; prayer and attending Mass was foremost, since the holiday celebrates the birth of Christ.

During the twelve days of Christmas (the days prior to Christmas Day), the Christian community prayed at daily Mass, attended vigils, and participated in almsgiving, donating not only to the poor, but to the religious communities as well.

One must not forget the food. Meats included beef, pork, turkey and boar, which was a nice respite after having fasted on fish. Favorite vegetables were carrots, onions, parsnips and cabbage. Bread warmed on the hearth and everything was washed down with wine, mead and ale. Yes, there was always room for dessert with a variety of tasty pies or fruit, such as apples, plums and cherries. And like today, a great chef was worth his or her weight in gold.

Minstrels would play festive tunes and guests would dance; gift giving was also practiced.

Over the centuries, customs have come and gone, but the main reason for the celebration remains, celebrating the birth of Christ.

About Mary Anne Bernal

Mary Ann Bernal is a family oriented, community activist participating in programs supporting the United States military. A guest on The Morning Blend television show hosted by KMTV, the CBS affiliate in Omaha, Mary Ann was also interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald for her achievements.

All of Mary Ann’s novels and short story collections are dedicated to fallen military heroes who gave their lives defending our freedom. A prolific writer originally hailing from New York, Mary Ann now resides in Omaha and has traveled for pleasure and research to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and Greece.

The Briton and the Dane

The Briton and the Dane series transports the reader to ninth century Anglo-Saxon England, a tumultuous period in history, when the feared Vikings ravaged all of Christendom.


All images, unless otherwise stated, can be found on Pixabay


  1. I can smell that bread warming on the hearth! Delicious!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for having me, Mary Anne. Love Christmas. God Bless.

  3. Do you know if gifts were given on each of the 12 days like in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas?

  4. I have not found any documentation about daily gift giving in this period. Emphasis was on alms giving.

  5. Wonderful post, Mary Ann. Do you know how much the poor would have received in alms?

    1. How much depends on the individual dispensing the alms and how much they had to work with.

  6. Surely the 12 days started with Christmas day and ran to Epiphany - not the 12 days prior to Christmas?

    1. The twelve days referenced above is not referring to the popular twelve days between Christmans and Epiphany. I apologize for being unclear with the post.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx