Yorkshire’s Secret: Christmas Cake and Cheese.

Photo: The combination of a well matured and baked dark fruit cake accompanied by slices of crumbly piquant cheese is a rare treat not to be missed.
The poor fruitcake has gotten a bad rap over the past few decades, and not just a cellophane wrap.
People misunderstand its booze-infused density and dank fruitiness, chalking up the decision to give such a gift as nothing more than a misguided antiquated ritual.
But Yorkshire natives will not be dissuaded from enjoying the holiday loaf and, furthermore, from topping the succulent slice with a thick layer of piquant cheese.
In England, a Christmas cake refers to the dried fruit–speckled, rum-soaked round that many other cultures simply call fruitcake. Ideally, the cake is made ahead of time—up to two months—allowing the ingredients to mellow and blend as they receive a regular dowsing of alcohol.
But how did cheese come to accompany the holiday treat?
According to food historian Peter Brears, the creative combo comes from the Victorian era, specifically in Wensleydale, Yorkshire.
Wensleydale is also home to an eponymous cow’s milk (formerly sheep’s milk) cheese that, at the time, was made only during the summer and reached maturity right around the Christmas season.
Folks found that the sharp and crumbly cheese—either perched atop or eaten alongside the cake—paired perfectly with the moist, rich baked good, and a tradition was born.
The Christmas custom has remained mostly a delight confined to Yorkshire, but has become very popular across the border in Scotland
Source: Christmas Cake and Cheese – Gastro Obscura

An Irishmen’s view of Christmas in Australia

by Padraig Collins,
Ireland has bequeathed much to Australia, from the bloodlines of legends such as Ned Kelly, Thomas Keneally and Paul Keating, to cutting those with overinflated egos down to size (aka the tall poppy syndrome), to much of your humour.
But one of the greatest aspects of Irish life – the utter adoration of Christmas – has failed to ever find serious purchase down under.
My first encounter of the great oddness of Christmas in Australia was in Perth in 1992 when I saw schoolchildren wearing synthetic red outfits singing hymns in 30 degree heat.
But at least they were trying. Most people don’t make any effort to get into the spirit of the season.
In Ireland we start celebrating Christmas as soon as Halloween is over, and it doesn’t end until 2 January.
We spend two months meeting people, socialising and properly analysing the year that’s ending and previewing the one to come.
It’s psychologically more beneficial than just going for a swim.
Halloween emerged from Samhain, a pagan Irish festival. They ate, drank and celebrated what they had because the nights were drawing in and there was no guarantee the sun would ever come back as strong as it was just weeks earlier.
People in Australia just don’t love Christmas.
Longtime Sydney mayor Clover Moore was the Christmas Scrooge in 2004 with her “seasons greetings” banners, which John Howard rightly called “political correctness from central casting”. Stung by the criticism, she has been pro-Christmas ever since, and wants Sydney to be a “Christmas destination”. It hasn’t made any discernible difference.
Australians do, generally, send Christmas cards, but they very often write Xmas, which I cannot abide.
The Christian Brothers beat that hatred into me so hard it still gives me shivers when I read it.
And when you complain about someone writing the dreaded word, the Xmas-writer will invariably get all defensive and say the X part comes from the Greek word for Christ.
So either Australia has the world’s highest number of Greek scholars or, just possibly, the highest number of people too lazy to write Christmas.
Read on via Source: No offence Australia, but you’re doing Christmas all wrong | Pádraig Collins | Opinion | The Guardian

A banned shipment of Christmas Beer nearly triggered a rebellion in Darwin,1918.

Photo: Black and white image of a line of men marching around a corner with small old buildings in the background.
What was the Darwin rebellion?
It’s a brave and foolish man who ups the price of beer on Territorians, and an even more unwise one who cuts off their shipment of Victoria Bitter, just before Christmas.
Key points:
Darwinites have recognised the centenary of the 1918 Darwin rebellion.
The hiking of beer prices was a catalyst for the union uprising outside Government House, where the Administrator John Gilruth was knocked down during the protest.

The rebellion eventually lead to Dr Gilruth being removed from his position, and a shipload of Victoria Beer was finally unloaded in Darwin.
But this was typical of Territory Administrator John Gilruth and his time in office where his heinous moves triggered the Darwin Rebellion of 1918, and eventually saw him driven out of the tropical town for good.
“Gilruth raised the price of beer and put it up to one and ninepence’. Now that’s dear beer, so to speak.” said author Honeywill.
On top of this atrocity, the ever-arrogant Dr Gilruth nailed down his final undoing by refusing to allow the unloading of crates of Victoria Beer from a freighter destined for Singapore.
“And that was enough,” Mr Honeywill said.”The boys were marching, and so they marched in … 700 Darwinites mustered and gathered outside that fence over there … this is where it actually happened.”
Outside his place of residence at Government House the mob angrily demanded Dr Gilruth explain his actions and called for him to step down from his post.
They demanded fairness. Equality. And cheaper bloody beer.
Dr Gilruth was knocked down by protestors, and Government House sustained some damage in the melee.
But calm was eventually restored, and violence gave way to reason.
“Rationality, which is the way in the Territory … rationality between Gilruth [and the union] saw the whole thing dissipate at the end,” Mr Honeywill said.
But the moment marked the beginning of the end for Dr Gilruth — within two months of the rebellion he had received his marching orders from the Commonwealth, stripped of his role and sent back down south.
Source: How a missed shipment of VB at Christmas nearly triggered bloodshed in Darwin 100 years ago – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

How to eat: Mince Pies.

Christmas is coming and How to Eat is chewing over a mince pie.
But hot or cold? Brandy butter or cream? And does it matter which hand you eat it with?

Mince pies: don’t mess about with them. Photograph: Magdalena Bujak/Alamy Stock Photo
In 1733, the Gentleman’s Magazine carried a short reflection on mince pies – née Christmas pyes – that, among other observations, noted how puritanical Quakers swerved them on the basis that they are an “invention of the Scarlet Whore of Babylon, an Hodge-Podge of Superstition, Popery, the Devil and all his Works”.
Sounds exciting, right?
But, in 2018, the mince pie, lacks that transgressive edge.
We may buy a staggering 370m every Christmas but we also throw a shameful 74m away, indicative of how innocuous they now are.
Any tingle of forgive-me-father-for-I-have-wolfed-four excitement has gone.
Mince pies are mundane. We take them for granted.
Part of the problem is that most shop-bought mince pies are clumsily spiced, collapsing air-pockets of disappointment.
But this is a treat of diminishing returns for other reasons, too.
We routinely abuse the mince pie. We fail to treat it with reverence.
Which is why it is best to read on and learn how best to eat one of Britain’s favourite dishes.
Merry Christmas!
Now Read On via Source: How to eat: mince pies | Food | The Guardian

Melbourne’s ‘Carols by Candlelight’.

IN 1937, popular radio presenter for 3KZ Norman Banks was walking through the streets of St Kilda, Victoria when he spotted an elderly woman singing carols alone on Christmas eve, her face lit up by a single candle.
The scene gave him an idea: what if, rather than singing carols alone, people could come together, ensuring no one spent Christmas eve by themselves?
The event would be called ‘Carols by Candlelight’.
The first official Carols by Candlelight, was held at Alexandra Gardens in Melbourne on Christmas eve in 1938 and, thanks to Banks’ high profile from his radio presenting, attracted 10,000 carollers.
It was held at the Gardens for the next 21 years, after which the event moved to Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl, with attendee numbers growing to 100,000.
According to a 1949 article in The Argus – a daily newspaper in Melbourne at the time – Carols by Candlelight was the “first Australian ceremony which has attracted worldwide attention”.
The radio broadcast of the original 1938 event was first produced and distributed by Radio Australia, which was said to bring “Melbourne, Australia, to the people of North America”.
According to music and cultural studies expert Liz Giuffrey, writing in The Conversation, Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight have been broadcast on Channel Nine since 1969.
Each year, different Carols by Candlelight events take place across Australia, from fireworks and festivities on Fraser Island in Queensland to the Christmas parades held in Armadale, Western Australia that kick off the night.
After it was first broadcast on television in colour in the early 1970s, it’s since become a star-studded event, with the likes of John Farnham, Kylie Minogue and Delta Goodrem performing the most popular carols.
In 1983, Sydney began Carols in the Domain, which was set to rival the Melbourne event – each competing for big headline acts.
It’s still broadcast each year by Channel Seven, and the event itself draws crowds of up to 80,000.
Norman’s vision of bringing people together to sing carols has persevered, with many fondly remembering gathering around their televisions and watching it with their families each and every year.
In 1952, Norman left 3KZ for 3AW, another Melbourne radio station where he was a pioneer of talkback radio.
He retired in 1978 and died in 1985.

Source: An Aussie tradition: it’s the 80-year anniversary of Carols by Candlelight