The Magic of Christmas

Discovery Days are themed activity days encouraging children of primary school age to explore and engage with Jersey Heritage in a creative and fun way. We work with artists, performers, story tellers and experts to engage and inspire young minds with activities that stimulate children’s curiosity, creativity and learning.

Roystons Magic Show

Everyone loves Royston! He's entertained generations of children in Jersey, and is a firm favourite. This year, he's put together a special Christmas show just for Jersey Heritage, for you to enjoy at home throughout the festive holiday season. It's also an opportunity for you to try and work out how he does it. It may even inspire you to try some of the magic tricks yourself – let us know how you get on!

Roystons Balloon reindeer

It’s nearly time to hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too.

When Santa comes to town, children will be ready to leave out a carrot for Rudolph - but what about the other reindeer? That’s right - there is a whole sleigh-full of reindeer working the night shift on Christmas Eve. How many reindeer can you name?

In 1823, the original eight reindeer were named in Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem ‘A visit from St Nicholas’, better known as ‘Twas the night before Christmas’.

Clarke Moore’s poem goes: “Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!”

There's no mention of Rudolf! That's because nearly a century later, Chicago-based copywriter Robert L. May added Rudolph, the most famous reindeer of all. He wrote of the shiny-nosed reindeer in a child’s colouring book titled ‘Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’, which was handed out during the festive period to over 2.4million children at department stores, Montgomery Ward in 1939. Rudolph became the icon he is today thanks to the 1949 song of the same name, which shot to Christmas number one in the USA charts.

If you want to have a go at creating Rudolf yourself then take a look at the full length video here.

MAKE A TRADITIONAL WREATH

The tradition of hanging a wreath on your door at Christmas to welcome guests into your home dates back centuries, but it was a tradition that the Victorians embraced and made their own. Victorian wreaths were elaborate - made with all types of evergreen foliage, such as holly, ivy and yew and decorated with dried fruit and pine cones. The use of evergreens symbolises strength as these plants can survive even the harshest of winters.

The word wreath is drawn from an old English word “writhen” meaning to twist. While wreaths have been around since the times of the Romans, who displayed them as a symbol of victory, they gained prominence with the Ancient Greeks who made “harvest wreaths”. They were later adopted by the Christian faith to observe the Advent season and to mark the countdown to Christmas, starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.

Here in Jersey a mênagiéthe was a wreath made of osier surrounded with pieces of paper of different colours or artificial flowers in fabric or material, and small rosettes of coloured paper hanging from it too and often mugwort and other dried flowers, such as honesty, white poplar, goldenrod, orchids, sunflowers, flowering asparagus, sneezewort, etc.There might be herbs for fragrance, and holly and ivy for greenery, and perhaps some shiny things to catch the light from the cresset.

There are no set rules today about how your wreath should be decorated, or what shape it should be, so here's artist Kerry-Jane Warner with some interesting ideas to get you started.

How the Victorians shaped our Christmas

The tradition of hanging a wreath on your door at Christmas to welcome guests into your home dates back centuries, but it was a tradition that the Victorians embraced and made their own. Victorian wreaths were elaborate - made with all types of evergreen foliage, such as holly, ivy and yew and decorated with dried fruit and pine cones. The use of evergreens symbolises strength as these plants can survive even the harshest of winters.

Wishing stars

Christmas is a time for connecting with family near and far. You may not be able to spend time with everyone you love this year, so how about making them a wishing star for 2021 instead. It's a simple idea but one filled with love. Hang it on your Christmas tree this year, then post it to them in the New Year to let them know how much you think of them. Maybe they'll hang it on their tree next Christmas.

'A visit from St Nicholas' otherwise know as  'Twas the night before Christmas by  Clement Clarke Moore

The poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” often referred to as “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,” was an important source in shaping the physical appearance and behaviour of Father Christmas as we know him today - the cheerful face, rosy cheeks and white beard, the names of his reindeer, and even the tradition that he brings toys to children.

Clement Clarke Moore wrote his famous poem in 1822 for his own children and didn't intend for it to be published. The poem became so popular that it provided inspiration for many artists including New York illustrator Thomas Nast, whose drawings captured the spirit of Clement Moore's famous poem perfectly.