ON the evening of Thursday, December 1, Historical Society members were entertained by the living history duo “From Time to Time” who, turning up in authentic costumes of the period, told how our Tudor ancestors celebrated the festive season.

During Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, people abstained from white meats (which included butter and eggs), the period of abstinence lasting until after the first church service of Christmas Day (Midnight Mass). (There’s not so much fasting during Advent these days!) The first day of note in the Christmas calendar however was 21st December, St Thomas’s Day, the only day of the year when it was permissible to beg without a license, so many people would be out a-thomasing, singing and collecting money from door to door.

From this beginning, the ladies took their audience through the entire Christmas period explaining the customs associated with each day and performing some unusual and extremely tuneful carols.

Christmas-tide ended with Twelfth Night, but people didn’t go back to work till the Monday following (so if Twelfth Night fell on a Sunday it was rather unfortunate). This Monday was known as Plough Monday, and was when the plough, which had been placed in the church and decorated over the Christmas season, was brought out again. And woe betide any householder who had been less than generous to the ploughboys who had been a-thomasing a couple of weeks before – they were likely to wake up and find their gardens ploughed up!

The Society’s season of talks continues in the New Year on the evening of Thursday, January 26, when Chris Povey, the Ringing Master of Evesham Bell Tower, will be talking about bell foundries of Evesham.

For more information visit the Society’s website: www.valeofeveshamhistory.org or contact the Secretary on 01386 870665.