We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Nicola here, wishing you a very Happy Christmas to those who celebrate the festival and happy holidays to everyone celebrating their traditions. Today is the first day of Word Wenches’ annual tradition of short daily blogs over the Twelve Days of Christmas. This year for the first time in as long as I can remember, and possibly the first time ever, I’m spending Christmas in a hotel. Every year for the past forever we’ve either been at home, hosting family and friends, or visiting them as their guests. This year, though, my mother-in-law went into a care home near my …

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Jubilee Jubilation

Jubilee postbox1Nicola here, in the UK, where we are marking Queen Elizabeth II’’s 70th anniversary on the throne with Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The series of events being held to celebrate this milestone reminded me of 1977 when I was twelve years old and was living in Leeds in Yorkshire. We had a street party and in the park down the road from us there was a big concert which you could hear from our garden – which was great as my parents wouldn’t allow me to go as I was too young!

Jubilees don’t come around that often. They mark a major milestone in the reign of a monarch and only start after 25 years on the throne with the Silver Jubilee. They are named in the same way that anniversaries are: silver, golden, diamond and platinum but there’s no pearl or sapphire jubilee and none of the smaller anniversaries in between. However, they may be infrequent but they have a long history. The origins of jubilee celebrations go back to Ancient Egypt when a pharoah would take part in various ceremonies to demonstrate his or her fitness to rule. The word “jubilee” derives from the Hebrew word ‘Jobel’ which refers to the ram’s horn with which these ceremonies were proclaimed. Jubilees are, as the name suggests, times of jubilation.

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Time for Cake!

CakeChristina here. A friend of mine has her birthday today – happy birthday! – so naturally my thoughts turned to cake! Well, the two usually go together, don’t they? Birthdays are a great excuse for baking (and eating) cake and it wouldn’t be a special day without such a culinary treat, at least not to me. Cake can also cheer us up in these uncertain times, so why not indulge ourselves a litte? It made me wonder though – who first hit on the idea of making cake? Time to dive down a research rabbit hole …


Attribution https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=128566

I don’t think anyone really knows where cake baking originated, but the first ones were probably more like bread sweetened with honey. Rather than putting the honey on top of the bread, someone decided to put it inside before baking and liked the result. I’m all for that as I confess I don’t like the taste of honey on its own. Nuts and fruit could have been added to make it sweeter (sugar came much later) as that was all they had. We know the Egyptians made special cakes for various feasts, religious ceremonies or for people to take with them to the afterlife. And then the Romans started adding eggs and butter to their bread dough, as well as honey, which gave them a cake like result. They must have brought these recipes to England when they were in control here, but then they left and the Dark Ages came … well, without cake they must have been dark indeed!

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A Happy New Year!

Nicola here. Farewell to 2019 and to the "twenty tens!" As we enter a new decade, the Word Wenches would like to thank you for your continued support for the blog and wish you a very Happy New Year. Together, the Wenches and our blog readers form a community that loves chatting about history, books, writing and life in general. We look forward to many more discussions in the years ahead! A hundred years ago in 1920, the new era was greeted with excitement in western society. In the wake of the First World War, the "Roaring Twenties" were known …

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A Bang of a Birthday!

Andrea/Cara here, festooned in red, white and blue for America’s grand birthday party celebration today. And for all of you in other countries around the globe, come party with us! You’re invited to come to share in the hot dogs, hamburgers, blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream that are among the traditional picnic favorites served across our country. Another grand tradition of the day is fireworks—no Fourth of July would be complete without the spectacular bursts of bright colors and loud bands lighting up the night sky. (Quite fitting, I suppose, since creating our country demanded that we set off a …

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