/ Food & Drink

The tastes of Christmas past and present: what are yours?

Christmas dinner

For me, there are certain foods that have to be there to make Christmas. But as I’ve adopted new traditions, some of my former must-haves have fallen by the wayside. So what will you be putting on the table this year that you wouldn’t have in Christmases past?

My Christmas Day stalwarts include a massive turkey (leftover turkey sandwiches with a generous heap of mayo are a given), pigs in blankets, sausage-meat stuffing, two veg (always carrots and sprouts) and Christmas pudding for dessert.

These elements have been ever present for all my Christmases and will be once again this year for my 47th.

But just as there are must-haves, so there are definite must-nots at my table. I could never, ever entertain swapping turkey for a goose. And I just don’t get people who add a Yorkshire pudding to their Christmas dinner plate.

And my mince pies have to be shortcrust pasty (surely a puff pastry one is just an Eccles cake?) with a traditional filling. Although I am tempted this year by the frangipane-topped mince pies recipe that was first published in the magazine a few years ago and has been a favourite of one of our team ever since.

In with the new

But who’s to say one 25 December in the future won’t see me tucking into a roast goose with Yorkshires on the side? After all, as my life has moved on and new people have come into it, I’ve added some taste traditions and some have ultimately fallen by the wayside.

Christmas Day evening and into Boxing Day now sees the buffet table crammed with crustaceans – crab, prawns, lobster (the latter, if we’re really lucky) – a welcome new tradition that’s come from marrying a Portuguese man with a fishing captain father.

Then there’s Leitao, a Portuguese suckling pig (bought ready cooked and eaten cold), which provides a real bonding session for the three generations of Mendes men we’ll have round the table this year.

And the boxes of deep-fried festive Portuguese pastries stacked up on the breakfast bar have replaced the traditional toast before opening presents.

Adulthood brought for me an intolerance to nightshade foods, so roast spuds have been swapped with sweet potato mash when it’s just my husband and me. But as we have the in-laws this year, I’ll be trying our special Which? extra-easy roast potatoes that can be mostly made in advance.

And instead of the illicit few sips of Babycham from my youth, I’ll be having a more grown-up glass of champagne to accompany present-opening.

Changing tastes

While testing this year’s Christmas food and drink favourites and with our 60th anniversary celebrations still fresh in our minds, we got to thinking about how much even the most traditional Christmas foods have changed over the years.

Nowadays, mince pies come in all sorts of guises. This year, we set our expert pastry testers an extra taste challenge: non-traditional mince pies you can pick up on the high street. These included the addition of ginger and ginger bread, plus the aforementioned frangipane.

We also compared the ingredients that featured in the Christmas puddings we tested this year to those from a recipe from the 1950s. We found that where eggs and ale were both present in Christmas puddings from the past, eggs don’t tend to feature today and ale has mostly been replaced by brandy or some other liquor.

And who’d have thought, back in the 1980s, when β€˜I’d love a Babycham’ was a catchphrase, how prosecco would be the most popular fizz today?


What makes your Christmas food? Are there things you must have? And what traditions have you left behind?


This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan – calm down dear (and, isn’t this topic supposed to be about favorite Christmas Foods?).

PS – best wishes for a Happy Winter Solstice πŸ˜‰

Freddie says:
13 November 2018

Jesus is what Christ-mas is ALL about, without that all you have left my sad friend is shops and their overpriced tat!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Ho, Ho, Ho…

Freddie – I still have my winter solstice celebrations. Human fads and religions will come and go, but the rotation of mother earth about our sun is rather more consistent and dependable.

That said, I did do “church parade” last Saturday, as part of the Armistice commemorations. A Christian padre, not long back from Afghanistan, lead us in a moving service and act of commemoration. Eagle eyed internet watchers may even have seen this broadcast live via the ‘net.

But back to modern secular Christmas food: Bring on the chocolate!

The Christmas Party

I’m dreaming of a Which? Christmas,
Just like the ones we used to know.
When our Lauren’s tipple
Looks just like ripple
And Joe and Adam sing quite low.

I’m thinking that our Mel is drinking,
While Adrian and Ellie dance.
Where Vanessa & Alex are seen,
And atop the tree sits Mr Steen.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With Duncan, Malcolm, John and Me,
And there’s Wavechange and Beryl
(And Vynor’s quite feral),
And Derek, cavorting with some glee.

I’m hoping for a white Christmas,
When Sophie’s Enterprise succeeds,
But the best time of all is right here,
With our friends and Conversations’ Cheer.

WOW! That’s brilliant, Ian. Thanks for sharing

I’m not sure how I feel about sitting on top of a Christmas tree πŸŽ„ πŸ˜‚

Brilliant, Ian. I’m working out if we can somehow perform this for you… wonder how we logistically stick @patrick on top of a Christmas tree πŸ€” πŸŽ„ πŸŽ…πŸ»

My tipple would probably be Baileys based… a mince pie will always tell me it’s Christmas time! 😊

I was referring back to your well-known tradition of a Bloody Mary 🍷 πŸ₯ƒ 🍸 🍹

I imagine you’d feel sore but we could always pad it a bit πŸ™‚

β˜ƒοΈ ⛄️

If you all want to rehearse, here’s the orginal

Of course! Yes, it’s not Christmas Day in the Deitz household without a Bloody Mary!

We start the day with a G&T and a mince pie in my house!

Up there with the best of them Ian, much enjoyed.

Fabulous, as ever, Ian! I probably will be drinking on Christmas Day, to be fair. Hopefully, it will be a few glasses of BB prosecco. 😊 As for past/present elements on the Christmas table chez moi, the Brussels are still very much on offer, but now they come drenched in marsala wine, and served with chestnuts and pancetta – a Nigella Lawson recipe, I believe. They actually get eaten when served like this.

😲πŸ˜₯😒πŸ˜ͺ😭😭😭😭 I wasn’t invited to the party, 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

That’s ‘cos you didn’t bring your harp.

Alfa: profuse apologies; you were in the orginal draft but here’s an emended v3 for you:

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With Duncan, Malcolm, John and Me,
And there’s Wavechange and Beryl
(And Vynor’s quite feral),
With Alfa, dancing with such glee.

And can the mods kindly delete the Carneades entry above, which happened when the system forgot I was logged…

All sorted for you, Ian. We rolled out some updates so there may be a little glitch in our system – I’ll run this past Paul (our developer).

I didn’t realise we were expected to be taking notes.


The emoji alternating with the dancing girls shows up as a rectangle on my browser, Alfa. Switching browser produces boxes with code numbers.

They don’t seem to work in Internet Explorer 11. They are ok in Firefox but look exceptional in Opera as they appear quite large so you can see what they are.

That’s strange. They are now showing up in both my browsers.

Amazing! But it’s probably a good thing you’ve never seen me dance…

This comment was removed at the request of the user

So many questions and probably no answers. Was the music on the web or did you scan it from somewhere? How? I don’t recognise the format as being Sibelius or Capella, which I use, so is it a “picture”? How did you get the words in? (Interestingly these show up with red lines under the non-standard words. Mine do too when typing, but these disappear when the text is published, so yours are still being spell-checked on site.) How did you circumnavigate the formatting process? Can I do it with any of my own music or does it have to be a commercial copy? If this is taken from a sheet music copy, where are the words you replaced and how were they altered? Did you have to adjust a word to the note it related to or did your computer do this for you? If so, what did you use?
Oh, and congratulations, by the way, brilliantly done!

Wow! Okay: I’ve done several arrangements of the song for close harmony groups (6 male voices – 2 x altos, 1 x tenor, 2 x baritones 1 x bass) and some for full choirs and orchestra but this was an arrangement on the web.

I edited the different strands together and made it into a png image, then uploaded it to the same site on which I host the User Guide.

Getting the words in is the easy bit: Macs come with Pages – a free and extremely versatile WP prog – which is what I used to insert the words.

Formatting is the tricky bit, as you noticed, so one answer is to use Sibelius to print blank staves onto which you can then ‘graft’ nomenclature. The other option is to take an image of a free-to-copy version, cover the words with ’empty’ boxes and insert your own text over it.

And no – I adjusted the words myself. I’m used to reading, since my early training involved reading a lot of Liszt, Chopin, Debussy, Beethoven and Mozart piano stuff, so it’s pretty much second nature, now. And thanks. Much appreciated.

Thanks for that Ian. Much as I expected and something for the future when the site develops further. I’m thinking of writing something for the Which choir, but doubt whether this will see the light of day this year. I have three verses and chorus penned ready.

Some time ago I wrote a short anthology of “White Christmases”. They would be inappropriate here so I’ve spread them out in the Rhyming Room, for anyone who wants to read them. They were written after our choir had sung it to death at numerous concerts.

I think a proper Christmas dinner can’t be without Sprouts, also it’s got to be turkey with pigs in blankets also.

Agreed. For me, pigs in blankets make or break the Christmas dinner. In my house we don’t have turkey because I’m the only one that likes it, so I tend to have an unthinkable amount of turkey in the run-up to the 25th to make up for it.

Sage & onion stuffing would be the meal-breaker for me.

Funny, Christmas is the only time we think of eating it.

I love stuffing, it’s my favourite part of a roast so I have it on a regular basis.

I always assume the sprouts have some purpose other than nutrition and flavour. Many people don’t like them but put up with them with their Christmas dinner for fear of offending the cook. It all depends on how they are cooked – they should be soft and fluffy in my opinion. We eat and enjoy them throughout their season so have no trouble eating them as part of a Christmas meal. Our first formal Christmas Dinner will be on 1 December and then another one on the 4th. I expect we shall be fed up with roast turkey and all the trimmings by the time the Big Day arrives and will have cold roast pork, hot baby potatoes, and an egg salad with chutneys and pickles, and with ice cream and jelly to follow. If the weather is like today we could have it in the garden.

Sprout flavour depends on the variety – many no longer have that bitter sulphurous taste of yesteryear. We part steam them, then finish them in a frying pan with a little butter, chestnut pieces and chopped bacon. Leave them slightly crunchy.

I think if your sprouts are soft and fluffy, John, they may have gone off…

I like vegetables with texture, including sprouts. Old people often refer to them as ‘not properly cooked’.

Yes but sprouts al dente are not enjoyable.

The condition of the molars comes into this as well of course.

Each to their own, John. My mother never cooked vegetables into submission and I don’t, unless the phone rings at an inopportune time. I don’t have a very good sense of taste these days and texture of food has become increasingly important to me.

Sprouts are big no from me. Although I agree, vegetables should be a little ‘crunchy’ on the inside.

A lot depends on how you cook them. If you boil them for a couple of minutes in salted water to which a dessert spoon of sugar has been added, then empty them out, wash under cold water to arrest the cooking, then fry them gently for ten minutes in a pan with butter, honey and sesame seed oil the results are pretty enjoyable. They don’t taste very much like sprouts, of course, but they’re rather nice to nibble. They’re also a tad al dente, I’m afraid, John.

People who grow their own Brussels sprouts, Malcolm, can choose their own variety for taste and flavour. We used to grow a few sprouts but no longer have the space for a proper vegetable garden. Unfortunately, the information provided in supermarkets on the picked sprouts supplied in bags or nets [sometimes loose and occasionally on stalks] does not give much information about the variety or its chracteristics so the nett result nowadays is a somewhat bland vegetable that is mass-produced for the Christmas market and barely available before or after. Cabbage seems to have become even more unwanted. Shame. I quite like greens, and I know there are alternatives, but just a little of the old time staples cooked properly can be rather enjoyable.

EACH to their OWN every time Many old sayings that many have forgotten are still true today

Bread sauce – turkey is just not the same without it. But – a rare roast beef joint with Yorkshire and proper gravy for Boxing Day is better than the big-bird ritual (in my opinion πŸ™‚ ).

We’ve decided, for the first time, to only give presents to the younger family members this year, partly because unless you spend a fortune (and we can’t) most presents become just accumulated possessions, if you get my drift. However, I’ll miss the excitement of unwrapping a parcel to find something i don’t really need (bah humbug).

But, we will have Christmas stockings! These usually contain lots of small things, from shoelaces, sweets, small kitchen gadgets (replacing the toothed-ring orange peeler that often gets thrown out with the peel) to balloon helicopters and other childish devices. Lots of fun – which is part of what Christmas should be.

Lets not forget to invite Patrick T to the festivities Ian! And socketman and Ken would be nice. There is a thought to form a Members committee that meets with Council twice a year – hotel and travel expenses paid. Perhaps one of those could end in a sing song in Marylebone?

I was limited to the number of folk I could effectively insert without ruining the song, Malcolm. Oddly, Alfa was in at the outset, but somehow disappeared in the process.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not very good at remembering specific moments from when I was younger, but I do distinctly remember the time I had bread sauce for the first (and last) time. It left such an impression on me that I’ve not tried it again since. It’s worth noting I was only 8 at the time.

There’s no room for turkey at my Christmas table – I can’t stand it. Rare roast beef, however, will certainly be centre stage – usually, a five rib for my family. And Boxing Day brings out the honey roast ham joint, which we dress on Christmas Eve, alongside a plate of fried eggs and bubble and squeak – yum!

Malcolm, that sounds like a great plan – we have a Which? choir so maybe they’ll join you!

@ldeitz, Good. I’m all for it. Anyone else? Lauren, can we leave it to you to make the arrangements and send out the invites?

There’s a W? Choir, Lauren? Care to elaborate?

There is, but I’m not a member – you don’t want to hear my signing attempts… I’ll happily act, but just don’t get me to sing. It’s a lunchtime activity and a popular one too πŸ™‚

I’d be happy to come and see you if you’re visiting Marylebone Road, maybe I can mix the Bloody Marys though rather than sing?!

I’d be very interested to hear them – and you. Choirs are good for us.

I’m in the choir – bass section, though I may move to tenor… We’ll record a video and share it with you πŸ™‚

On Christmas food – I’m not the biggest fan of mince pies, though you can’t beat a good pastry (agree with Daniella that puff doesn’t cut it!). I think I would have quite liked them if they had meat in them as they used to rather than fruit mince meat…

What’s your range, Patrick?

Daniella, I would love to try suckling pig – not sure about it being served cold. Is that a Portuguese tradition, or a Mendes family tradition?

We have my Grandma up from the 24th-27th, who joins my mum, step-dad, sister and me, so it’s a small affair – the rest of my family are in Wales or South Africa. On Christmas eve it’s normally spaghetti bolognese, Christmas day is a combination of any two meats with ALL the trimmings, followed by all the various puddings Tesco offer, and Boxing day is the day of leftovers!

I’m trying to convince my mum to get a goose for one of the festive days but she’s not convinced. Anyone had goose before?

Yes; quite wonderful – although it’s no longer the choice for the cash-strapped, as it was in Dickens’ day. The only problem with Goose is the fat draining, which has to be done twice during the cooking. But it’s a wonderfully succulent bird, and beats the inordinately dry Turkey wings down.

That was my mum’s two points; the price and the fat. I’ll let you know if I manage to convince her

We used to have goose when visiting an aunt on Boxing Day. They were given it by their employer. It was very eatable, as far as I remember, and made lovely gravy (which we had on Yorkshire pud for a starter, as I mentioned earlier). However, looking at goose as a potential purchaser, they seem jolly expensive and with not a lot of meat. A bit like duck used to be but bigger. This may be a myth though. Looking at Tesco, they advertise a 4kg frozen goose from Hungary that will serve 8-10 for Β£20; but in contrast, a free range goose from Farm2fork, that presumably has not had so far to fly, costs Β£95 for one that also serves 8-10. Unlike the Tesco model, this one weighs 5.5-6.5kg, not 4kg.I hope the Tesco version doesn’t leave them hungary.

I remember once buying a duck for the family dinner (2 + 4 children) and bemoaning the fact, as I started carving it, that there wasn’t much meat on it. It was then pointed out it was upside down…

What I enjoy most about Christmas is meeting up with family and not having to help with the preparation of the big meal. It’s nice to have a break from doing the cooking.

Have we got to the Christmas pudding yet? That has always been the highlight for me.

I love Christmas pudding – I have mine with salted caramel and whiskey cream.

Good for you I hate the thing will not eat it at all but that’s just me You continue to love it You can have my share anytime

Thank you for your generous offer, Bishbut. You are welcome to help yourself to turkey, roast potatoes or whatever takes your fancy.

I might give that a go, Alex, but with whisky rather than whiskey. It would not be right for a Scot to use Irish whiskey.

Have you pre-booked your stay in a cardio ward, then, Alex? πŸ™‚

I will give the Xmas pud a miss, but I might have some salted caramel ice cream.

If you have ever read reviews for salted caramel ice cream, many moan because they can taste the salt. Doh… 😱

Christmas pud is high in fats, high in saturates and high in sugar but it is OK because it’s low in salt. πŸ™‚ Of course salted caramel might change that. πŸ™

Don’t like Christmas pud; even at its best, when it’s not a cheap dried out fruit cake, it is far too sweet. Give me Yorkshire Pudding and Jam any day – or real Bakewell Pudding.

There are plenty of opportunities to give food treats at Christmas – stuff that you may not normally buy (perhaps), like Pedro XimΓ©nez sherry, Pistachio nuts, Hotel Chocolat, Chestnuts in syrup……… But I dread the concoctions that then stay in the cupboard for years before they are discarded. Christmas coffee and tea, spiced wine, marmalade with whisky (or whiskey), mustard with honey, champagne and snails eggs (I made that up)….Good basic food spoiled and desperation purchases. They won’t find a place in our Christmas stockings…….

Has anyone else been given such concoctions, or perhaps some have a taste for the unusual (I’ll send you some πŸ™‚ )

I am not a lover of Christmas pudding but will eat it once a year when the occasion demands. On that basis its unhealthy constitution is unlikely to cause lasting damage.

I have never understood why people buy the huge tubs of chocolates and other sweets. Do they sit on the sofa in front of Her Majesty gorging on them by the handful? The tubs are now such silly shapes they’re not even useful for mixing up some plaster [its potential for re-use being my first consideration when purchasing anything in a container].

I have little time for the sort of Christmas pud that’s served up in restaurants. The supermarket offerings vary and I find that many of them are too rich. I found a tin of Christmas coffee at the back of a cupboard in September and it was still in good condition.

Very true, Ian. Diet starts Boxing day? πŸ˜‰

Malcolm I have never had Yorkshire puddings with anything other than gravy. Jam would be an interesting experience, I think.

Salted caramel ice cream is also nice (now I’m getting hungry!).

I normally say I don’t have a sweet tooth but this thread is making me think otherwise. πŸ™

You think you made it up malcolm?:

They look nice, Alfa. Presumably laid by the wife of Brian in the Magic Roundabout. How do they taste? Slightly tart on the tongue, perhaps, with a hint of cinnamon in the finish?

When first seeing Monty Python’s Life of Brian in the cinema I was half expecting the usherette to come round with the Ocelots’ Nipples but no such luck on that occasion.

I know what you mean about odd-shaped boxes, John. Christmas is a good time to collect useful storage containers. I acquired a Quality Street tub last year and it’s octagonal. πŸ™

I’m sure that those sitting scoffing the sweets will not think about using the container to mix plaster, but they might be getting plastered over Christmas.

You won’t catch me eating snail eggs. Yuk.

Cinnamon on the other hand………..

Skipping Xmas and moving on to Easter……..

Toasted hot cross buns with lashings of butter, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, and topped with thick honey. Yum, Yum.

@awhittle, Alex, Yorkshires are really only thick pancakes, which i also love with fresh lemon juice and sugar. Worth trying YP if you have any left over from the roast. I have not yet grown to like salted caramel, chocolate or ice cream. Nor have I learnt to like whisky. I’m usually given a box of Turkish Delight at Christmas and try as I might, although I have a sweet tooth, it is far too sweet. But I do like Baclava, perhaps because they are honey-based.

@malcolm-r I know this Convo is a bit out of season but I’ve just watched the news and it reminded me of your comment: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/news/have-americans-re-invented-yorkshire-pudding-dutch-baby/

For those of us who don’t have an account with the Telegraph, here is the same story: http://www.itv.com/news/2018-05-15/yorkshire-pudding-or-dutch-baby/

I’ve never heard of Dutch babies.

You’ve a good memory Alex πŸ™‚ Thanks wavechange; I managed to read the grey text. We should give Yorkshire Pudding regional status under EU law, like Cheddar and Champagne. However, the American recipe with sugar, butter and nutmeg is not Yorkshire. I’ll have to show it to mrs r and see if she will make some.

I need to find the secret recipe for Bakewell pudding. A delicious soft almondy paste and jam in a flaky pastry case. I’ve had it in Bakewell and you can buy it mail order. Never seen it in the shops though (except in Bakewell).

I’m not quite sure of the difference between Bakewell tart and Bakewell pudding, thought the latter is the original. I once made a Bakewell tart and left it cooling. I went back into the kitchen from the garden and the neighbour’s cat shot out at very high speed, having been eating my culinary creation. Every time I see a Bakewell tart I think of the incident.

Cheddar, champagne, Yorkshire pudding do deserve regional status. I think Duncan said that the Americans were planning to use the name Scotch Whisky. πŸ™ Lochmuir salmon should only be sold if it comes from Lochmuir.

A Bakewell Pudding has a soft filling made, I think, with eggs and ground almonds on a raspberry jam base in a flaky pastry case.

A bakewell tart has a frangipan sponge topped with almonds, on jam in, in my experience, an ordinary pastry case. Sometimes iced with a bit of cherry.

The pudding has a totally different texture and taste.

I wish I had one……….

If mrs r makes some can we have a full report please, ha! I want to know what it’s like. It certainly looks like a Yorkshire pud, but I don’t think it can be classed as one. Regional status of YP is an interesting idea, I support it.

I’ve never tried making a Bakewell pudding. I might have a go in autumn or winter.

Perhaps Which? could do a report on Bakewell tarts and puddings, bought and from recipes. I’m happy to take part in the taste tests! Sometimes memory is better than reality and I might be disappointed in an “original” pudding. We did have one in the Haddon Hall restaurant many years ago and it did not let us down.

Christmas is NOW just another excuse for wasting money on food that a other times of year you would not buy at all ! To much this to much that and FATTENING But you go mad at Christmas just so you can start on a diet afterwards Christmas used to be a Religious occasion and still is to many people NOW ???

While it’s true that the season is fairly commercial, it’s not true that it ‘used to be a religious occasion’. The actual season predates Christianity and is called Saturnalia although it could be argued that since it was conceived to worship Saturn so as to ensure a decent harvest the year following it did have some mildly religious connotations.

The interesting aspect of Saturnalia is that not only did it involve feasting, fun and frolics, towards the end of the period the masters waited on their servants and slaves, thus anticipating Boxing Day in some ways.

Going back further is difficult, since the creation of Saturnalia was forged in the idea that there was no certainty that spring would return following winter and it’s likely that ancient humans, inherently superstitious with regard to natural events they didn’t understand, almost certainly celebrated the ending of the shortest days of the year and did so indoors – or in-cave, as it might well have been then.

We’ve continued the idea, and early missionaries harnessed the existing celebrations to make them ‘religious’, and simply switch superstitions, as it were. I agree it’s now simply a time for over-indulgence, but the financial and commercial worlds are built around the idea of maximising income at that time.

Happy Saturnalia.

Thanks Ian – and Happy Winter Solstice to you all πŸ™‚

My history teacher at school never told use about history so far back He was not living then I presume or could not remember so far back Thanks for the info..

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Some aspects dervive from the German Royals but not as much as you might imagine. From Britannica: “The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmas time.” The German import was comparatively late in the day, in fact.

With regard to Saturn being a nasty God, however, I suspect you’re thinking about Lua, one of Saturn’s consorts in Mythology, who represented “destruction, dissolution, loosening, and was a goddess who received the bloodied weapons of enemies destroyed in war”. Saturn was regarded generally as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation which are, in the main, reasonably positive characteristics.

He did have the odd foible, of course, as he regularly devoured his own children (a minor pecadillo, explained by the fact that time devours the courses of the seasons, and gorges itself “insatiably” on the years that are past”) but everyone’s entitled to a hobby, I suppose.

Truly fascinating Roman and Greek mythology.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

It would be interesting to test astrology by listing in detail future events that are specific to everyone, not just to individuals.

Ir’s been done. Berkley University has this: “In the few cases where astrology has been used to generate testable expectations and the results were examined in a careful study, the evidence did not support the validity of astrological ideas. This experience is common in science β€” scientists often test ideas that turn out to be wrong. However, one of the hallmarks of science is that ideas are modified when warranted by the evidence. Astrology has not changed its ideas in response to contradictory evidence.

Many astrological predictions appear in newspapers β€” not in places where they will be scrutinized by the scientific community. Sharing one’s findings and critically evaluating the results of others are not integral parts of practicing astrology. An astrologer can go his or her entire career and not present findings at a scientific meeting or publish a single article. When astrologers do publish, these articles are not usually peer-reviewed or published in places where they will be critically scrutinized by the scientific community.

Scientific studies involving astrology have stopped after attempting and failing to establish the validity of astrological ideas. So far, there are no documented cases of astrology contributing to a new scientific discovery.

Scientists don’t wait for others to do the research to support or contradict the ideas they propose. Instead, they strive to test their ideas, try to come up with counterarguments and alternative hypotheses, and ultimately, give up ideas when warranted by the evidence. Astrologers, on the other hand, do not seem to rigorously examine the astrological ideas they accept. As reflected by the minimal level of research in the field, they rarely try to test their arguments in fair ways. In addition, the astrological community largely ignores evidence that contradicts its ideas.”

Lots of references .

duncan believes in Astrology so I was really questioning what evidence he has to support it, or is it just a belief?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I think Ian is absolutely right about astrology. If it is a science why are there no university degree courses in it? Indeed, academia ignores it altogether. To me it seems to be a combination of supposition and coincidence so heavily hedged with qualifications as to be meaningless. I have many close friends and relatives, however, who place their faith in it and get much satisfaction from seeing a forecast eventuate.

I will take up the Duncan Lucas challenge and let him divine my destiny from just my birth date and time – 04:01:1947 @ 01:00 [approximately]. I have been told that my principal characteristic deriving from the sign of Capricorn [I’m bang in the middle] is that of being capricious. I await the word of the wise man.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

OK Duncan – I’ll give you a free hand. My birthplace was Thetford in Norfolk and the coordinates are 52.41 degrees North / 0.74 degrees East. So long as you stick to the rules, Duncan, I will accept the consequences and I look forward to the results.

As I a HHGTTG fan, I think a note of caution is required here.

After all, where would we be, if we upset the powers that be and precipitated a national astrologers strike? πŸ˜‰

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Somewhat surprised to see a top US military man openly questioning the chain of command.

On the second and utterly unrelated point, Duncan, you need to read about that case from objective sources, and not those with an axe to grind.

Shall we get back to talking about Christmas food? All this talk of nuclear warfare and other irrelevant issues upsets the Christmas appetite.

I’ll second that proposal. πŸ™‚

Bring on the luxury chocolate biscuits and the finest blue stilton cheese!

I am sure the celebrations around Christmas-time that we have today have their roots much further back than the Victorian period. Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol was written only shortly after Prince Albert married Queen Victoria and described traditional English festivities that had not been influenced by any German cultural imports. Novels and plays by 18th century and earlier writers also portrayed a generous and heart-warming season. Perhaps the focus on pine trees was a Germanic tradition but it is quite possible that it was a strong English tradition as well through the Baltic timber trade that went back centuries. It was probably a practical consideration since English trees were devoid of leaves in December and not suitable [or cheap enough] to cut down and bring indoors. Christmas cards were a wholly English innovation and obviously had to await the development of the universal penny post to make them popular. Enjoying a fulsome repast also goes back a long way with benevolence and indulgence being symbolic of the relationships between people and the dutiful observance of the Christian code for a few days a year a sign of goodness and conformity. In pre-Industrial Revolution Britain, December and January were difficult months when normal work was frequently impossible and a bit of downtime and merriment was tolerable. The preparations probably started much earlier than we complain of today because the right piglet had to be chosen months ahead to fatten up for the table.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I agree with you on the start of the commercialisation of Christmas being mainly in the 19th century. It had to await the arrival of mass manufacturing, distribution, and consumer commerce and there were some sharp entrepreneurs who took advantage of the opportunities. I am not sure how welcome or unwelcome these developments were however. Perhaps there was resistance in more rural areas. The imagery of Christmas was certainly exploited by the merchants and manufacturers to spray a patina of good cheer and well-being over some fairly miserable lives, the illustrated biscuit tin being a prime example.

I mentally smile – or maybe grimace – when I see the chocolate boxes and biscuit times extolling the virtues of living a few hundred years ago. They conveniently omit the less salubrious aspects, such as open sewerage, high child mortality rates, rampant infection, no squirty cream for the hot chocolate – I mean, how did they live??

I think the celebration of evergreen trees goes way back to pre-Christian times.

This comment was removed at the request of the user