Christmas with Sam and Elizabeth

Ron White draws on the diaries of Samuel Pepys to paint a picture of the festive season in the 1660s.

Portrait of Samuel Pepys by J. Hayls.

December 25th was chosen by the Church as Christmas Day as early as the fifth century, when it adopted and adapted the pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. But it was not until the seventeenth century that Christmas began to take the shape we know today. The most evocative chronicles of that era come through the diaries of Samuel Pepys, perhaps the greatest English diarist, whose detailed observations bring to life the events of his day and let us share them. Not just the major happenings; the Plague, The Great Fire or the King's Coronation, but everyday matters too which he faithfully records; quarrels with his wife, going to concerts, boat trips to Greenwich, visits to mistresses, theatre going, all meticulously set down.

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