I have never been to a Renaissance fair. There have been a few near or even in my town, but not that many, and there's no chance I'm going there. It's the people or rather the number of people. I just can't deal with crowds anymore, not even for a while. Strolling through the city is already enough for me, but too many people in one place, no can do. This is also the reason why I have never been to the Esslinger Medieval and Christmas Market (if you have a look, ignore that they haven't updated all the dates, this IS for 2018), no matter how much everyone raves about it. Pity because it may have been the perfect introduction for this post. Then again a Renaissance fair is not always set in medieval times at all, but often in the era of Queen Elizabeth I. But how did they celebrate Christmas back then?
When I looked it up, this caught my eye first "Christmas customs are hard to pin down and harder still to identify as
verifiably in use during the Elizabethan era. (The past is not all the same place.)
With the shifts from Catholic to protestant and back and forth again,
some customs were banned or simply stopped, revived, then abandoned. Here are some of the things we're sure of." (from "Life in Elizabethan England).
Houses were decorated with all kinds of green, for example holly, ivy, yew and more. Hospitality was the rule, so whatever could be afforded, was there, from meat to pies, from spiced wine to drinks from hot cider, sherry or ale with spices and apples. "Eat, drink and be merry" (from "BBC History") was the motto for the Twelve Days from Christmas Eve to Epiphany. The merry part consisted of gambling, plays, morris dancing and general silliness. There was also the custom of the Yule log, a block of wood cut from a tree chosen for the occasion and put into the fireplace, then lit using a bit of last year's log that has been saved. The Yule log is expected to burn all night.