The Yarn Begins:
An old man in Scotland calls his son in London the day before Christmas Eve and says, “I hate to ruin your day son but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.”
“Dad, what are you talking about?” the son screams.
“We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer” the father says. “We’re sick of each other and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Leeds and tell her.”
Frantically, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. “Like hell they’re getting divorced!” she shouts, “I’ll take care of this!”
She calls Scotland immediately, and screams at her father “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we will both be up there tomorrow.
“Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and hangs up.
The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. “That’s Sorted! They’re coming up for Christmas tomorrow and they’re paying their own way.”
Winter Landscape by Caspar David Friedrich (1811)
Image Credit: Photograph by Corbis
See more Artwork via The 15 artworks that define Christmas – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian
If you’re someone who can’t wait to plan Christmas every year, it’s never too early to start preparing the Caribbean holiday treat known as black cake.
To make this dessert, islanders soak dried fruit in rum and cherry brandy for up to a year before baking.
After British colonists introduced plum pudding (which is more like cake than it sounds) to Caribbean islands, locals adapted the recipe with available ingredients.
Black cake may be a far cry from the original pudding or its cousin, fruitcake, but it does include a combination of cherries, raisins, prunes, currants, and dates.
Where traditional fruitcake makers leave the pieces of soaked fruit intact, black cake bakers pulverize them into a sweet paste.
The finished product is a rich, smooth cake that may be iced, but more often stands alone.
Regional flavors punctuate the uniquely Caribbean confection. A combination of extracts, called “mixed essence,” adds notes of vanilla, almond, and pear (though on Trinidad, home of Angostura, recipes may use bitters and vanilla).
A homemade burnt-sugar syrup called “browning” contributes a caramel flavor. And the rum-soaked fruit offers a bit of bittersweetness.
The New York Times describes the resulting cake as “darker, deeper and altogether more absorbing” than its fruitcake relatives.
Families across the islands and their relatives in the United States—especially in New York—reserve baking and eating black cake for Christmas.
Whoever’s making black cake bakes only a few, so giving one is a deeply affectionate gesture. Someone devoted months of preparation and more than four hours of baking to each cake, along with lots of love, liquor, and expensive fruit.
Digging in should make you feel like a slice of the sweet itself—warm and more full of rum than you appear.Need to KnowSome Caribbean and West Indian establishments sell black cakes during the holiday season.
If you’d like to try your hand at making black cake, but don’t have year-old, booze-soaked fruit at home, fret not—many recipes say three days of soaking works just fine.
Source: Black Cake – Gastro Obscura
Cultures have enjoyed sharing written New Year’s greetings for centuries. The English-speaking ritual of sending holiday cards, however, dates back only to the middle of the 19th century.
Some sources say it originated with Thomas Shorrock, of Leith, Scotland, who, in the 1840s, produced cards showing a jolly face with the caption “A Gude Year to Ye.” a Guid New Year
Credit more commonly goes to Sir Henry Cole, who would later become the first director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
He commissioned an artist to create 1,000 engraved holiday cards in 1843. Cole’s greeting featured a prosperous-looking family toasting the holidays, flanked on both sides by images of kindly souls engaging in acts of charity.
A caption along the bottom read, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”