Twelfth Night: confectionery and customs

Notes from 19th Century Birmingham

Twelfth001 Mary Clitheroe’s Twelfth Night party by “Phiz”

In recent times Twelfth Night has become the traditional time for taking down the Christmas tree, although there is now some dispute over whether the occasion should fall on the 5th or the 6th of January. A celebration dating back to the Middle Ages, during the nineteenth century it was one of the most popular of the Christmas holiday celebrations.

A detailed explanation of the origins and customs of the occasion was presented in a two column article in Birmingham’s Daily Post, January 6th, 1871, opening with a vivid description of an expected street scene:

This evening, if it happens to be tolerably fine, there will be a crowd at every confectioner’s window, admiring those indigestible dainties – the Twelfth Cakes; resplendent in all the colours of the rainbow, adorned with a multiplicity of grotesque ornaments and figures reposing amidst flowers, fruits and…

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6 thoughts on “Twelfth Night: confectionery and customs

  1. I enjoyed reading this post. I was born on January 6 and it was always the time the family would take down the tree. We also had various party traditions that my mum and dad shared but did not know the origins of. The Twelfth Cake was my birthday cake – but it wasn’t anything as elaborate as those referred to in the post. Just a very light and tasty white angel food cake with cream cheese frosting and colorful confetti-like sprinkles made by my grandmum.

    Thanks for sharing this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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