Deck the Medieval Halls

Today, many people are taking down the Christmas tree and cleaning out the vestiges of Christmas. In medieval times, the twelve days of Christmas– from the feast of the birth of Christ until the Epiphany, when the wise men arrived with gifts– is barely beginning on December 26.
How might the halls of the great castles been decorated throughout the celebrations? It has turned out to be a particularly difficult topic for research, with very little information turning up.

As mentioned in a previous post, trees might have been decorated with apples on Christmas Eve. But the trees stayed outside, strongly rooted in terra firma. Pine boughs would have been common, however, perhaps with plenty of ivy, holly, and mistletoe. As it was a great feast day, we can guess that the rushes on the floor would be fresh, and likely a higher quality of candle used around the hall– perhaps more candles than usual. A yule log would have burned in many hearths throughout the twelve days. It’s a good guess, too, that it would have been a time of fresh linens on tables and altars.
But for the time, very little is recorded about those decorations. I hope soon to find more information.

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