Monday, December 16, 2019

16th century “Christmas Husbandly Fare” poem

Thomas Tusser (1524-1580) composed a poem of activities through the year, including a Christmas dinner of beef, mutton, pork, shred pies [mince], turkey, brawn pudding, souse, mustard and more...

Tusser wrote A Hundreth Good Pointes of Husbandrie in 1557, then Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry in 1573.   Excerpts appeared in numerous works, including an 1812 edition of his work. HERE

Good husband and housewife, now chiefly be glad
Thing's handsome to have, as they ought to be had,
They both do provide against Christmas do come,
To welcome their neighbour, good cheer to have some,

Good bread and good drink, a good fire in the hall,
Brawn pudding and souse, and good mustard withal.

Beef, mutton, and pork, shred pies of the best,
Pig, veal, goose, and capon, and turkey well drest;
Cheese, apples, and nuts, jolly carols to hear.
As then in the country is counted good cheer.

What cost to good husband is any of this,
Good household provision only it is;
Of other the like I do leave out a many,
That costeth the husbandman never a penny.

1812 note:
The "Christmas husbandly fare," is interesting as a genuine picture of the mode of living in the sixteenth century. The different viands enumerated are still known by the names which they bear in the text, if we except "shred pies," which  appear to be mince pies, as they are now called. Butcher's meat, poultry, native fruits, and home brewed, were then thought amply sufficient.

Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry  (1573)   1812 edition
Christmas with the Poets.  London: 1851. Pictures from Tusser section

©2019 Patricia Bixler Reber
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