Christmas is coming! And with that, so is mulled wine, mince pies, Santa hats, presents, Christmas trees and more.
There are so many traditions associated with Christmas and if we’re not making the most of them, we’re a Baa Humbug.
But as we order our Christmas turkey and put the lights on the tree, it’s interesting to think about some facts of Christmas that we don’t know.
In fact, we’ve collected 12 interesting Christmas facts (12 being the number of the 12 days of Christmas!) for you to indulge in.
The pleasure is ours. ‘Tis the season of giving, after all.
If you want to be the winner of your dinner table trivia, read on for our 12 interesting dinner table trivia facts about the (oh so magical!)…Christmas.
Let’s start with the most iconic Christmas tree in the UK…the Christmas tree of Trafalgar Square.
Most of us have had the honour of seeing this Christmas tree in its full glory in the centre of London and have probably made a special visit to see it in December.
The interesting fact about this significant tree is that it is donated every year by the people of Oslo in Norway to the UK for the country’s support in World War II.
And it is not just any old Norwegian tree…
It is a 50 to 60 year old Norway spruce that is HUGE at over 20 metre tall.
It has been displayed in Trafalgar Square since 1947 and is put up at the beginning of December and taken down on 6th January.
So, yes, we do have our incredible ancestors to thank for this generous gift from Norway. The ultimate Christmas gift of remembrance…
Does your home become tinseltastic at Christmas? Or are you a fan of a subtle smattering on your Christmas tree?
Whatever your answer, it appears that tinsel is a legendary Christmas decoration. And it has been around since 1610!
It was initially made in Nuremberg in Germany of actual shredded silver.
Santa was first used in a promotional advert by Coca-Cola.
And this advert shaped the appearance of the “Santa” we’re familiar with today.
Before Coca-Cola started using Santa in their advertisements in the 1920s and 30s (Most significantly, their advert in 1931). Santa was depicted in a number of ways.
In 2001, Coca Cola animated Santa for their advert too.
The alternative name for a Christmas Tree is a Yule-Tree.
We’re not sure we’re going to be using the alternative version though…
Hallmark cards have to be one of the most well-known Christmas cards and they have, in fact, been around since 1915.
The company was founded only 5 years before by Joyce Hall and is located in Kansas City, Missouri in the US.
Hallmark cards weren’t the first Christmas cards though. The first Christmas card was, in fact, sent in 1843 by John Calcott Horsley for a friend.
When we refer to “Christmas” as “Xmas”, apparently the “X” comes from the Greek meaning of “X” of Christ.
The first Christmas stamp was introduced by the US in 1962. It was green and red and apparently featured a wreath and candles.
This fact is one about Japan and takes us from the interesting… to the downright weird.
Apparently, for Japanese people it is a tradition to spend Christmas Eve at KFC. And this is so popular, they need to book their seats a couple of months in advance.
Over 3 and a half million Japanese people flock to KFC over Christmas to indulge in the brand’s fried chicken.
Wow. And there we were thinking the Victorian Bird was a festive treat.
Want to know the best-selling Christmas song of all time?
Well, here it is.
“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby.
Well, it is a few years ahead of Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” after all.
Sales of “White Christmas” have reached over 50 million.
A King was crowned on Christmas Day in 1066!
Said King, being King William I of England.
Now if that fact doesn’t win your Dinner table Trivia, we’ll eat our (Santa) hats…
HOH OHO is the actual postal (zip) code of Santa. And it is based in Canada.
Many children will get a reply too!
In 2012, over 1 million children sent a letter to HOH OHO.
The first Christmas was celebrated in 1539 in America.
And it most certainly wasn’t a white Christmas. In fact, it happened on the sandy beaches of Florida!
It was not full of the festive traditions we’re used to nowadays, it was more of a religious service or gathering.
Most like a Christmas Mass that can be attended nowadays.
No Christmas Trees. No presents.
We’re glad a bit of festive cheer has been thrown into the occasion!
In fact, we love festivities here at Bowood and go the extra-mile when it comes to the most wonderful time of the year!
We are proud of our luxury Christmas breaks, festive dining and Christmas Party Nights.
And, of course, we don’t do things by half!
Whether you are looking for a Pre-Christmas break, a Twixmas getaway or a New Years Eve party, you’ll find the perfect Christmas celebration for you at Bowood.
From relaxing in our infinity pool and Xmas food indulgence, to late-night dancing and Champagne bubbles, we’ve got Christmas cheer for all tastes.
We’re not far from the beginning of the Christmas festivities (we’re guessing you’ve probably been thinking about putting up your Christmas decorations in the next week or two).
And at the moment, all we’re thinking about is indulgence. We want to enjoy the last month of the year. Not waste it.
And how will we enjoy ourselves? We’ll eat mince pies, toast with Prosecco, sip mulled wine, share chats over coffee and christmas cake and, of course, tuck into endless Christmas turkey dinners.
Here at Bowood, we’ve already got the Champagne-on-tap for various Christmas events (don’t worry, not literally!).
In fact, our resolutions for December look a bit like this:
Challenge: Tuck into at least one roast dinner a week leading up to Christmas?
Answer: Child’s play. Bring it on.
And when we’ve got so many social occasions to attend. Why not? Christmas is our favourite time of year! It’s time to dig out our favourite glittery dresses and black tie attire, roll our sleeves up and enjoy our favourite alcoholic beverages.
One too many? Not to worry. It’s Christmas!
It’s true, we can drink all we like, with the peak/pinnacle/top of the chart being New Year’s Eve.
However, as soon as we reach New Year’s Day, reaching for the paracetamol and orange juice, wiping leftover mascara from our eyes and wondering how we made it home last night. That’s when we start to make our (dreaded) New Year’s resolutions.
Not at Bowood Hotel though, we’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions already. We want to actually achieve our goals this year and not write them off after a couple of months attempting them.
So while we’re all up for letting loose over the festive period, let’s put forward some New Year’s resolutions that we’d all like to achieve. And how to really stick to them.
The first error often made when setting New Year’s resolutions is to list them all in your head (without taking pen to paper) and then not exploring how you are going to achieve them.
So, here goes…
Get a pen and notepad, and let’s tackle our demons, one by one…
A New Year’s Resolution bound to fail: I don’t really like the gym, but I am going to sign up and go there to exercise for at least an hour everyday before or after work.
How to make this achievable: Firstly, pinpoint exercise/activities you actually enjoy. If it’s the gym, great! But if not, perhaps it is netball, walking, running, swimming, yoga, etc. Once you’ve decided on the activity you enjoy, aim to participate in the exercise once a week. When you’ve started to become more active, you’re more likely to want to increase the activity you’re doing.
You can’t just suddenly expect yourself to bounce out of bed every morning at 6am to squeeze in your morning workout, when usually in the morning you take 10 minutes over pouring your morning coffee.
If you’d prefer a couple hours walking out in the fresh air over a 45-minute sweaty workout in the gym, then go with your preference. You are much more likely to repeat exercise you enjoy!
And if you are much more energetic at 5pm than 5am, make evening exercise your thing.
A New Year’s resolution bound to fail: I am going to follow a strict diet for the whole of January. No guilty indulgences. I will have juice for breakfast and a dinner with no carbohydrates.
How to make this achievable: Honestly, it is surprising how many people actually make the resolution above. To the initial eye, it seems absurd. No carbohydrates for dinner? That’s not healthy. Juice for breakfast? What about when we’re hungry at 10am?
Losing weight and eating healthily actually go hand-in-hand. In order to achieve a healthier diet and shed a few pounds at the same time, it is best to follow a healthy, balanced diet.
When it comes to it, a few ‘treats’ a month won’t hurt.
To succeed? Decide a date when you would like to lose weight by, for example, ‘my best friend’s wedding’ and follow a healthy, balanced diet until then, monitoring your weight as you go. That way, you’ll see if you need to be tweaking eating habits as you go.
See, you don’t need to get on the fad diet bandwagon and become vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, no carb, paleo etc. to be healthy.
Follow the Eatwell Plate and you’ll, well, um…be eating well.
A New Year’s resolution bound to fail: I have always wanted to learn to play piano. I think I’ll have a go this year.
How to make this achievable: I will enrol in some weekly piano lessons and practice playing the piano in two hours of my free time a week.
A New Year’s resolution bound to fail: I will talk to my family and friends more often.
How to make this achievable: I will make sure I call my parents every Saturday whilst I am cooking dinner. I will phone my friend on the last Sunday of every month to arrange a ‘coffee and a catch-up’ for the following month.
A New Year’s resolution bound to fail: I will consume less units of alcohol each week.
How to make this achievable: I will limit myself to four units of alcohol each week. I will spread these units across a Friday and Saturday night. I will not drink alcohol on a weeknight unless it is a special occasion.
Okay, sounds like some weird sacrificial vows but you get the jist…
Wiltshire is a beautiful county at the edge of the South West Peninsula. Its landscape is contrasting, with woodlands, river valleys and clay vales – but often it’s known for having open chalk hills – known as “downland” – such as Salisbury Plain. Famously, Salisbury Plain is home to one of the most historically important places in the world. That is, of course, the World Heritage Site – Stonehenge.
Wiltshire is a place of significant ancient history, and it’s worth visiting for this alone – but it’s also a modern cultural hub. There’s always lots to do, and Christmas in no exception. To save you some googling here’s a round up what’s on in Wiltshire this Christmas.
The aroma of bread baking is the loveliest in the known universe. Then again, are there aromas in space? There’s no air, so…
Bread is one of those things that defies seasonal shifts and time. This means it’s not, not Christmassy. Kneading dough and baking bread are also warming activities perfect for dark, wintry afternoons.
If you fancy learning the basics why not try this course.
Alongside producing superb quality Aberdeen Angus Beef and fruit and veg, Hartley Farm helps supply its own farm shop – with a butcher, delicatessen and a vast choice of wines and craft beers.
The Hartley Farm Christmas market is a fine way to while away a couple of hours with a glass of mulled wine, some delicious Wiltshire produce and Christmas performances.
“You bought how many artisan cheeses? 26?”
Christmas through the ages, all under one roof.
For this year’s festive season, the National Trust are decorating the rooms in Mompesson House to reflect Christmas in different eras. This brilliant idea will have you walking between a Regency Christmas in the dining room and a 1950s one in the library, as you snack on a mince pie or two.
Apologies, this isn’t festive at all. It’s intriguing, impressive and downright weird though. If you’re interested in crop circles or think you could be – this is your moment.
Are they created by farmers with planks of wood, for a laugh – or as geometric representations of the thought processes of an extra-terrestrial intelligence?
This multi-media exhibition, first created for the Wiltshire Museum is a comprehensive lowdown on crop circle history and latest news.
For more info – please click here.
The Longleat Estate made history, becoming the first place outside of Africa to have a safari park. It’s also the focus of the BBC TV series ‘Animal Park’, hosted by Ben Fogle and Kate Humble – that’s been running for almost 20 years.
Longleat’s ‘Festival of Light’ is 1,000 lanterns in the dark, illuminating parts of a fantastic journey through time and space, spread over 30 acres of parkland.
Intrepid visitors will stumble across brand new creatures, worlds and awesome structures on an epic aeronautical adventure.
For more info – please click here.
This year’s exhibition at Fisherton Mill, is about giving your Christmas shopping a fresh sense of curiosity and wonder.
The exhibition will feature a range of contemporary arts and crafts, designed to be playful, make you think and baffle you – including optical illusions.
“Is the cat inside or outside the toy box and is it actually a box anyway, or a flat wall panel?”.
This is a direct quote from the website, and it sounds hilarious – in a good way.
Why not check out the website.
If you’re ready to climb 322 steps to the top of the tower, with breaks, you’ll be able to look out onto the night-time city scape of Salisbury and the multi-colour illuminated art installations in cathedral close.
Look out for the neon display “I will turn darkness into light”.
A twilight tour of Salisbury Cathedral tower is a lovely way to end a day spent wandering around the Salisbury Christmas market.
For more info – please click here.
Now in its sixth year, the Christmas market is a wonderfully atmospheric addition to the ancient streets of Salisbury. It follows a German lead and has 70 wooden chalets with all sorts of Christmas treats – from handmade furniture to luxury food and drink.
It’s a perfect accompaniment to a festive shopping spree in Salisbury. Plus, everything is unique, desirable, made in Britain and intended to support our home economy.
Christmas at Bowood, in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside is a magical experience. Our boutique hotel, spa and golf resort is nestled within 100 acres of pristine, landscaped gardens – which are beautiful when tinged with winter frosts.
If you catch a chill whilst exploring our grounds, why not settle by a crackling log fire with a glass of something, or enjoy a festive afternoon tea? You could also visit our spa for a revitalising treatment. Golf warms the cockles too.
At Bowood, we love Christmas. That’s why we’ve filled our festive calendar to the rafters. Here’s a handful not to miss –
Up for a festive knees up? We also have party nights throughout December. In advance, we wish you a merry Christmas!
Thanks for reading.
The wedding entertainment starts, and it feels more like a school disco than one of the most important days in a couple’s life. The DJ is over the hill and thinks an endless stream of 1970s “floor fillers” will do the trick. Not only this, but he forgets he’s played “Night Fever” – so plays it again. This isn’t an affront on disco music (or DJs) – there’s a time and place for it. However, unless you’re a super fan it probably isn’t going to be a part of your wedding.
You want class, style and of course music that everyone will love. Good music. No clichés, no garish white suits – just exceptional musicianship. But what to choose? These days, there’s choice galore when it comes to wedding music. DJs have upped their game, and live music is more popular than ever. To save you unnecessary head scratching, here are some wedding music ideas to start you off…
Funnily enough, after Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s stunning performance at the recent Royal Wedding, the demand for solo cellists has skyrocketed. And rightly so – this uncluttered, cleanness of sound is a wonderful way to provide a breather at busy, and possibly noisy wedding.
The thing not everyone appreciates, is that a wedding with classical music isn’t condemned to be formal, and stuffy. It follows the lead of the musicians. Modern classical music can be fun and diverse, with a finger firmly on the pulse of popular culture.
Quartets and classical groups have the instrumental breadth to create beautiful compositions of songs in any genre. Take your pick.
At Bowood, we’re big fans of classical music and can put you in touch with some sublime musicians. For a start, why not have a listen to one of our popular solo violinist – Lizz Lipscombe or solo harpist, Katie Saloman.
Fancy a Gatsby wedding? Well, a good place to start would be with the music. Vintage American swing, with a modern twist is becoming a go to choice for weddings.
Bands like Postmodern Jukebox are fuelling a new wave of swing. Rather than covering songs from the 20s and 30s they go for unlikely modern hits and enthuse them with a jazz era* cool.
Have you ever heard a swing version of a hip-hop song? You’ll be surprised in the best possible way.
*It was also the era of prohibition. Authenticity at your wedding is great, but this is perhaps too much.
One of the best things about acoustic bands is they don’t need electricity to sound great. Plus, this means they’re not tied down to a stage. Stages are overrated.
Acoustic music is something born in the pubs, front rooms, parlours, fields and around the campfires of the land. It’s raw, passionate and doesn’t have to be dressed up.
Having a band roam around your wedding is experiencing music in a chilled and natural way – and it’s always nice to be able to chat with musicians without the formal divide of stage.
It’s summer, and you’re in a crowd with thousands of other people. The sun has fallen, and now hangs just above the horizon – giving the light a bronzed, ethereal quality. It’s like a dream in real-time. Your favourite band starts playing the first notes of your favourite song.
The crowd around you erupts into verse, a storm of voices carrying a beautiful melody. The feeling of euphoria sends shivers skittering down your spine.
There’s nothing quite like a music festival. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t capture it in miniature for your wedding.
Festival style bands are brilliant at warming up crowds with toe-tapping summery songs – perhaps some George Ezra or the Lumineers. Then, after a low key start they can switch to electric and play their own headlining act.
Your guests will appreciate the diversity – it’s like getting two bands in one.
Although the great folk revival of the early 2010s may have run its course, the fast rhythmed, foot-stomping legacy of Mumford & Sons is still alive in the wedding scene.
There’s something sincere, and unfussy in folk that sets it apart from other forms of music. When played with heart and energy, it never fails to get people dancing.
Folk music is atmospheric too and reminds us of cosy winter nights by a fire, as much as it does summer nights – spent camping in the woods or at a festival. Feel good music at its finest.
Moving well away from disco music, modern DJs can give some diverse and outstanding performances. One of the trends right now is for DJs to have a live vocalist or percussionist join them. This was popularised in big clubs around the world. It’s the perfect meeting of the transcendental sounds of a superbly mixed set and the stage presence of a live musician.
The best of both worlds.
If you want the heady rush of a DJ’s build up, and the ignition of excitement that comes with a meticulously executed drop – but also want a live band, here’s a compromise.
Mash up bands are very impressive. With exceptional talent they can mix together your favourite songs (albeit they can’t play electronic dance music!) and get a crowd going much like a DJ. Also, it’s a lot of fun trying to guess the song, as it creeps in at the end of another.
The Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort is a magical wedding venue, deep in Wiltshire countryside – surrounded by endless views.
Not only is Bowood an undeniably beautiful place to marry, but all the finer details of your wedding can be taken care of – from delicious food to stylish décor and everything in between.
At Bowood, we offer bespoke weddings that reflect your wildest dreams and for ease, carefully thought out packages with all budgets in mind. All those fantasies about your wedding day? At Bowood, we’ll breathe life into them.
(You’ll not be able to resist)
from £40 – £45
Arguably the most exciting golf contest of the calendar sees golf fanatics from across the Atlantic and Europe descend upon the Albatros Course of Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a suburb southwest of Paris on the outskirts of historic Versailles, France.
Most people have heard of the Ryder Cup but do you know the history, how teams are picked and anything about this year’s course? We’ve put together 20 Great Ryder Cup Golf Facts to educate and amuse, and hopefully whet your appetite for the game fondly referred to as ‘…a good walk spoiled’ – Mark Twain.
There were two unofficial matches between professionals from Great Britain and the United States before the birth of The Ryder Cup in 1927, both won by the British. The first was played at Gleneagles in 1921 but the second of these, held at Wentworth in 1926, was undoubtedly the most significant for among those in the gallery was a man called Samuel Ryder.
The Ryder Cup competition is named after English businessman Samuel Ryder who famously donated the gold trophy for the competition in 1927. However, Ryder is not depicted on top of the trophy, but his golf instructor Abe Mitchell. The Ryder Cup is now one of the hottest contested trophies in sport.
Nowadays the Ryder Cup matches pit the United States against all of Europe, but that was not always the case. From 1927 to 1979 the International opponents to the USA were only made up of players from Great Britain. It was decided to open the team to all of Europe in 1979 with the aim of making the matches more competitive as the USA won all but one of the matches from 1935-85.
Europe had to wait a staggering 28 years to win the cup from the USA in 1985 after an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole by an emotional Sam Torrance for a 1-up victory at The Belfry, Warwickshire. Legends such as Sandy Lyle, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Bernard Langer joined Torrance in celebrating the win with Europe team captain Tony Jacklin.
Sir Nick Faldo holds the record for the most Ryder Cup points with an astonishing 25. Faldo competed in 11 Ryder Cups with a record of 23-19-4.
If you run your eyes down the list of past Ryder Cup results you will notice a 10-year gap. That’s because from 1937 to 1947 no matches were played due to WWII.
The European team have seen 3 sets of brothers compete: Charles, Ernest and Reg Whitcombe, 1935; Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt, 1963E and Eduardo and Francesco Molinari, 2010.
The European and US teams have 12 players each chosen by a captain. It’s up to the captain to decide who he wants to play in the 28 matches that are played over the three days of the competition.
Points and new regulations have changed slightly this year, so for a full explanation of how players qualify, visit the official Ryder Cup page here: How the European and American Teams are picked for the Ryder Cup.
Did you know captains don’t actually play? The last playing captain for the Europe was Dai Rees in 1961, and the last for the USA was Arnold Palmer in 1963, from then to now the captains just pick the pairings and watch the golf!
Match play is a scoring system for golf in which a player, or team, earns a point for each hole in which they have bested their opponents; as opposed to stroke play, in which the total number of strokes is counted over one or more rounds of 18 holes. Match play encourages more aggressive play as players are looking to win the hole outright. It’s all about beating your opponent!
Each of the first two days includes one four-match session of four-ball and one four-match session of foursomes. The final day sees 12 singles matches.
Each match is worth one point. If a match ends in a draw, each side is awarded ½ a point each. The first team to reach 14 ½ points wins the Ryder Cup. Should the matches end in a 14-14 draw, the team holding the Ryder Cup gets to retain it.
Designed by architects Hubert Chesneau – read his account of the inception of the Golf National here and Robert Von Hagge, in collaboration with Pierre Thevenin. The Albatros course is home to the French Open – the oldest national open in Continental Europe and is actually one of two courses found at Le Golf National. The course opened in October 1990 and has experienced significant renovation in preparation for the 42nd Ryder Cup in 2018. There are few trees reflecting the architects’ understandable reluctance to wait decades for the course to mature. As part of the renovations in preparation for the Ryder Cup, 17 new bunkers have been built, 28 original ones reconstructed, two new lakes constructed and four new pro tees added.
Golf Courses and Estates Manager, Alejandro Reyes, has been tasked with creating a Ryder Cup landscape using the 7,331 yards of The Albatros course. The past year has seen him testing supplements to ensure the course is in tip-top condition and doesn’t suffer the same affliction as ‘baked and bald’ Carnoustie did for the British Open and overseeing the huge drainage project of 2017. Watch this great Turf Matter’s interview with the charismatic course manager.
The incredible ‘stadium finish’ consists of the last four holes, set in a bowl circled by stunning lakes – and yes, dyes are in the water to enhance their looks. A dream setting for the roaring Ryder Cup crowds to enjoy climatic classic match play golf. The unique undulating layout of the Ryder Cup course also favours spectators who can get an enviable up-close view of play pretty much anywhere along the course.
So what happens if a player gets hurt during the competition and can’t compete in the Sunday singles matches? Well, before play begins, each captain puts one name into a sealed envelope and in the instance that there is an injury on the opposing team, the player inside that envelope sits out. Thankfully, the envelope has only been used three times in the history of the competition.
The Ryder Cup has ended in a draw two times, both in 1969 and then 20 years later in 1989. As previously mentioned, on a tie, the team that previously won retains the cup.
When you think of The Ryder Cup, no doubt the first thing that comes to mind is three days of consistent match play golf. This is undeniably golf’s greatest team contest, but there is much more to a Ryder Cup Week than you may have realised with a whole host of events including celebrity matches, past Captains matches and the Junior Ryder Cup that lead up to the play we see on tv.
The Disneyland Golf Course is hosting the Junior Ryder Cup on September 24th and 25th with the 24 most talented young golfers of their generation. It’s Europe versus the USA, just like its big sister a few days later, and brings together the best golfers under 18 for two days of incredible competition. Led by French captain Maïtena Alsuguren, the European team will try to win the cup back from the USA this time round.
Preparations are already in place for the 2020 Ryder Cup which will be held Whistling Straits, Wisconsin. The course graces the shore of Lake Michigan and has played host to three PGA Championships (2004, 2010 and 2015). Although Ryder Cup tickets for 2020 are not yet available, you can register your interest to ensure you’re first in line!
Enjoy superb pat lay on a stunning 18-hole championship golf course closer to home. Set amidst a beautifully landscaped English country estate, Bowood is the No.1 golf course in Wiltshire. Golf at Bowood is open to visitors, members’ guests and hotel residents throughout the year.
With many events across the calendar including our Into the Dark Night Golf Challenge and Seniors Invitation Golf Day in October, booking a tee time couldn’t be easier with the Bowood online tee booking system. For those wishing to stay a little longer and take advantage of the boutique style hotel and spa there are a range of Bowood Hotel Golf Breaks to choose from too!
from £40 – £45