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Ep 152: Christmaaaaaas - Ho Ho Ho...ld on what now?!?

a frog lies on it's back stabbed with a dagger, as another frog, dressed in blue trousers and a red waistcoat runs away, holding a small bag. captioned - A Merry Christmas to you
Because nothing says Merry Christmas like a murdered frog

This week Alex, Fiona and special guest Lee are chatting all things Christmas.

Including when and where it has been banned, Booo!

We pulled crackers, and found out where they were invented, Hurrah!

Who first published a recipe for Plum pudding? Your clue is episode 143

We discussed Xmas entertainments like Pantomime.

Oh no we didn't.

Oh yes we did.

Oh no you didn't.

No we didn't. But maybe head back to episode 128 for Simon's Dick Whittington for your festive dose of double entendre.

This next bit comes with a serious trigger warning. Really, only scroll down if you have a strong and nerves of steel. Because it's about to get weird and potentially scary.

Christmas cards. Invented by Henry Cole of the Great Exhibition and V&A museum fame. He's credited with sending the first one in 1843. Like all of us he ran out of time before Christmas to send his usual letters to friends. So he commissioned a picture that he could post instead:

The central section with a group of people probably a family enjoying a glass of wine is festive enough. But with a Victorian moral twist - either side there are shadowy figures either helping or being helped. Should we remember the poor, at this festive time? Is that the message. Or ignore the the background figures and concentrate on the celebrating? It's not too clear. And that's just the start of it.

Victorian Christmas cards are bonkers! Feast your eyes on these:

A winter landscape - some sledging, so far so good. But why chickens? and why the caption " Here's a crow for Christmas"?? I don't understand....

Dancing beetle and frog via Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington

1876 via National Library of Ireland

At first glance this is just weird. It's from the National Library of Ireland though, so if it were produced in Ireland, there's potentially layers of socio-economic meaning to it. Mid 1800s there was the potato famine, with many many deaths and massive emigration. In which case the Absent Friends and the ship on the horizon become much more relevant and poignant. But then the brackets [natives] and the oysters with legs?

If you want to show a group of children enjoying a Christmas theatrical event, something delightful, like a magic lantern show, with a festive goose, why not add someone chasing the goose with a big knife? Because it would look like this:

 There's a trend, even the toys and fun festive motifs we are still familiar with, like the nutcracker toy soldier. Comes with side order of horror film menace.

Is this a yeti? or a snowman melting in the rain? Even a freshly made snowman is creepier than anything we'd see nowadays.

And lets not forget Father Christmas. The nice old man with the twinkle eyes who brings us presents and is an emblem of Christmas cheer.

Or is he?

Both via farmhousenotforgotten

And finally, two of the classic - Clown attacking Policeman genre, as mentioned in the pod. One with a goose thrown in for good measure.

How are you feeling? Don't go to bed straight after reading this. Take a moment to unwind, maybe a cheeky nightcap (no cheese, or you'll be dreaming all sorts of scary stuff).

Whatever you are celebrating (or not), best wishes from us to you. Have a very Merry Christmas! for all the episodes on all the platforms and to get in touch.

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