‘Tis the season to be jolly. This year when preparing your Christmas feast why not take some inspiration from Mrs Beeton and her legendary 1861 Book of Household Management


Words of wisdom from Mrs Beeton…

“In December, the principal household duty lies in preparing for the creature comforts of those near and dear to us, so as to meet Old Christ-mas with a happy face, a contented mind, and a full larder. And in stoning plums, washing currants, cutting peel, beating eggs, and
mixing a pudding, a housewife is not unworthily greeting the season of
good will. ”


“The cost of poultry varies considerably, being affected both by theseason of the year and the district in which it is purchased. It is well to remember that poultry almost invariably rises in price at Christmas, and also tends to be expensive when no game is on the market. These considerations borne in mind, the table below will give a reliable average of prices.”

“Fattening Turkeys for the Table. Turkeys grow very slowly ; there-fore, the earlier they are hatched the better when it is necessary that they should attain their full growth by Christmas.”

Boar’s Head

“In ancient times the boar’s head formed the most important dish, and on Christmas Day was invariably the first placed upon the table, its entrance into the hall being preceded by a body of servitors, a flourish of trumpets, and other marks of distinction. The dish itself was borne by the individual next in rank to the lord of the feast. The custom of serving a boar’s head on a silver platter on Christmas Day is still observed at some colleges and Inns of Court. So highly was the grizzly boar’s head regarded in the Middle Ages that it passed into the cognizance of some of the noblest families in the realm ; thus it was not only the crest of the Nevilles and Warwicks with their collateral houses, but it was the cognizance of Richard III …”

Christmas Pudding

And if none of that takes your fancy – shake it up a little…

All images and text are from Mrs Beeton’s Household Management which is in the public domain and the full text of which is available online at the Internet Archive.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has been involved in and supported the Open Knowledge Foundation this year. It’s been a great year in the open data space, so Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. See you back here in 2012…


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Sam is a data trainer and wrangler at Open Knowledge. He Tweets from @Noel_Mas