Historian Lucy Worsley recreates festive traditions from the time of Henry VIII in BBC2’s A Merry Tudor Christmas with Lucy Worsley
If you’re even slightly concerned over the amount of calories you’re about to consume this Christmas, spare a thought for Lucy Worsley in her fun BBC2 documentary A Merry Tudor Christmas with Lucy Worsley!
In a bid to understand where our seasonal celebrations, customs and excesses originated, the TV historian is travelling back in time to re-enact what the festivities were like 500 years ago for one of history’s most notorious party lovers, Henry VIII himself.
From dressing up as the king, to indulging in lavish feasts and joining carol singers to perform a festive hit penned by Henry, Lucy discovers that many of today’s favourite traditions have surprising Tudor origins.
Here, Lucy, who turns 46 on 18 December, tells TV Times more…
What were the most surprising things you discovered in A Merry Tudor Christmas?
That many traditions, such as Christmas trees, presents and cards, are surprisingly young!
19th-century inventions. It was interesting to discover traditions that have been around for 500 years.
The Tudors had spices from Africa and the Indies and that lovely flavour of mince pies and mulled wines is still the scent of Christmas today.
What other seasonal Tudor customs do we still follow?
Carols weren’t just about Christmas – they were about generally having a good time.
Some seem more like drinking songs than religious celebrations!
Who from that period would you invite for Christmas dinner?
Two of Henry VIII’s wives – Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard.
Anne, Henry’s fourth wife, separated from Henry, got her own palace and cleverly stayed on good terms with the King’s next wife, Catherine.
I love the fact that there’s one night recorded where King Henry goes to bed early and his two wives dance together!
I’d invite those two to the dinner.
Will you be including any Tudor traditions in your own celebrations this year?
People like to wear Christmas jumpers for parties but I’ll be taking that further in full-on disguise – or masking, as the Tudors called it – by arriving in fancy dress.
In Tudor times, disguises allowed for a whole lot of bad behaviour!
For full listings, see our TV Guide.
TV Times rating: ****