Thirty years after the first recorded Christmas,
in the fourth century, the Pope was already
warning that too many people were spending
the day not in worship, but dancing and eating
to excess. By 1616, the playwright Ben Jonson
was nostalgically recalling the Christmas of the
old days, certain that they had been better then.
Food, drink and nostalgia for Christmases past
seem to be almost as old as the holiday itself,
with other aspects of the celebrations newer
than we might realise - wrapping-paper was
unknown before the twentieth century.
Christmas has been all things to all people: a
religious festival, a family celebration, a period
of eating and drinking. In this event acclaimed
social historian and best-selling author Judith
Flanders casts a revealing eye on the myths,
legends and history of the season, from the
origins of the holiday in the Roman empire to
the emergence of Christmas trees in central
Europe, to draw a picture of the season as it has never been seen before.