Cornish Christmas Celebrations were known to involve Gin and Cake
Cornish Christmas Celebration involved many traditional customs.
According to Cornish Tradition… The old Cornish custom of taking gin and cake at Christmas time began when shop owners would give lower classes gin and cake to thank them for purchasing their Christmas goods there. Often the gin served would be ‘mahogany’; a traditional Cornish drink made from two parts gin and one part black treacle. To mix this unique drink, you warm the gin and the treacle and mix them together slowly, creating a drink which tastes a bit like alcoholic treacle toffee. Unfortunately this gin and cake tradition seems to have abated in recent years in Cornwall, England. See more Cornish Traditions here:
The Cornish “Kissing” Bush
Like many traditions, the Cornish Christmas tradition of the Cornish Bush has its roots (pardon the pun) in winter solstice Pagan celebrations. The consensus among experts is that the use of Mistletoe in ritual form started with the Celtic Druids. This ancient civilization of people lived on the British Isles in what is now Ireland and Scotland.
Adapting the pagan meanings and symbolisms to fit Christian belief systems, the Cornish kissing bush now represents new life. This three-dimensional wreath is made by weaving holly, mistletoe and ivy around a circle of withy – in the centre of which is hung a “crown” of rosy apples and a generous sprig of mistletoe. The beautiful festive ringlet is then topped with a candle and hung indoors on December 20th. Cornish tradition states that dancing in rings underneath the Cornish Bush whilst the candle is lit welcomes in the God of Light. The old “kissing bunch” (as it was sometimes known due to the dancing and merriment which took place underneath it) is still hung from the central beam of the living-room in cottages and homes across Cornwall. The well-known tradition of kissing under the mistletoe evolved from the tradition of the Cornish Bush and is now practiced all over the country with people hanging sprigs of mistletoe in doorways and arches in the hope of attracting a Christmas kiss!
Celebrating Gold Hill’s Cornish Roots
Many Cornish miners worked here at the Gold Hill Mines and taught us how to mine the precious gold ore from deep in the earth. The Cornish shared their knowledge of deep hard rock mining along with their excavation, ore processing and refining methods. Many Cornish descendants still live in Gold Hill. On December 10th, We will celebrate some of those Cornish traditions, maybe not the Gin and Cake, but a few more of Cornwall’s traditional Christmas customs.