Tuesday 25 December 1660

(Christmas day). In the morning very much pleased to see my house once more clear of workmen and to be clean, and indeed it is so, far better than it was that I do not repent of my trouble that I have been at.

In the morning to church, where Mr. Mills made a very good sermon. After that home to dinner, where my wife and I and my brother Tom (who this morning came to see my wife’s new mantle put on, which do please me very well), to a good shoulder of mutton and a chicken. After dinner to church again, my wife and I, where we had a dull sermon of a stranger, which made me sleep, and so home, and I, before and after supper, to my lute and Fuller’s History, at which I staid all alone in my chamber till 12 at night, and so to bed.

34 Annotations

First Reading

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

A Quiet Christmas.

Interesting that the day involved no gift-giving at all, but that it's essentially treated as a Sunday, at least by Sam & Co.

And ... though it's been said, many times, many ways, thank you Gyford, for Pepys.

And to all a good night.

language hat  •  Link

Xmas gift-giving basically dates only to the 19th century.
For Christmas history, see David Quidnunc's extremely helpful series of quotes from a book on the subject at the background page here:

vincent  •  Link

"Wot" ever happened to the "tom t" too raw to eat?

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Ah, but there are at least two gifts today, Tom:

Pepy gave his wife a mantle and a muff, which he mentioned buying for her on 21 December -- without her being present:

"By water to Whitehall (leaving my wife at Whitefriars going to my father's to buy her a muff and mantle)”


I think the turkey from Charles Carter (mentioned 23 December) might have been a Christmas gift. Possibly the candlesticks for Coventry are part of some kind of Christmas gift-giving.

I doubt Pepys received a gift from Elizabeth — because it’s hard to imagine that Pepys wouldn’t mention it in the diary. It’s possible that the idea of gift-giving at that point was solely one from the more powerful person to the less powerful one — a form of charity.

Pepys was also trying to get the work done on his house by Christmas, as he mentions at the end of yesterday’s entry. Tom is visiting for dinner, but perhaps Pepys’s mother, Margaret, who is thought to have leaned toward Puritan beliefs, frowned upon Christmas celebrating, so neither she nor Pepys’s father showed up.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Christmas "Present"/Christmas "Past"

This would have been the first Christmas in some time that the government in power did not officially discourage celebrating. Christmas would now be the trendy thing to observe, and a show of support for the new government that pays Pepys's salary. Celebrating Christmas also would be an affirmation of Pepys's less Puritanical religiosity.

Last year, government offices would have been officially open. Around Christmastime, the Pepyses received a brawn from Elizabeth Mountagu and, from Edward Mountagu, a dozen bottles of sack on 2 Jan. 1660 as a "New Year's gift" (L&M Vol. 1, p 4, note 1).

The 2 January 1660 page:

Mary  •  Link

No gift from Elizabeth.

As a corollary to David Q's note, it is unlikely that Elizabeth would have had control of any money apart from that which she was allowed for day-to-day household expenses and, from time to time, larger sums for specific purchases (e.g. substantial items for the house). Unless she were able to fiddle money out of the housekeeping, she wouldn't have been in much of a financial position for gift-buying. As for the housekeeping, I suspect that Sam wanted fairly detailed accounts of the outgoings.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Actually, Elizabeth probably did the shopping, but I still think it was a Christmas gift.

I said in my first annotation above that Sam bought the mantle and muff for Elizabeth without her being present, but it seems much more likely that on Dec. 21 Sam and Elizabeth together boarded a boat near Seething Lane then went upriver, where Elizabeth debarked at Whitefriars -- very close to John Pepys's house on Salisbury Court -- and Sam continued on without her upriver to Whitehall. She then went on the shopping trip with Sam's father, not Sam.

I think I misread the 21 December entry: "By water to Whitehall (leaving my wife at Whitefriars going to my father's to buy her a muff and mantle), there I signed many things at the Privy Seal …” (L&M render it “to my father, with him to buy her”.)

All of Elizabeth’s doings are then neatly separated from Sam’s by the parentheses, and if we assume “her” means “herself” it becomes clearer. That makes me a bit less sure that the muff and mantle were Christmas gifts. Notice that Pepys is very short with the details of the shopping (not even the prices!), which makes it a bit more likely he wasn’t as involved.

Why didn’t Pepys write “to buy herself” instead of “to buy her,” which would make it clear it was Elizabeth and not Pepys doing the shopping? In large part, I think, because it was a gift. If he’d written “to buy herself” (a phrase he writes numerous times in the diary, according to a Google search of the pepys.info site), then it would sound like she’s paying for it out of the regular budget or allowance he gives her (or out of money she had from elsewhere), not as a special (unusually expensive?) gift from him.

It’s also possible that “to buy herself” would indicate more decisionmaking in Elizabeth’s hands than Pepys is allowing her. John Pepys may be controlling a lot of the process of buying the clothes. He might be along to make the final decision on Sam’s behalf, to find a good merchant, a good price or, as a tailor, judge good workmanship. I suppose it’s possible he’s even handling the money. It would be something like a child going out to buy a car with an auto-mechanic grandfather.

John Pepys’s role in all this would have to have been arranged beforehand. Sam and Elizabeth visited his father the previous Sunday, 16 December (last sentence).

dirk  •  Link

"To church..."

It strikes me that on some sundays - and on this Christmas day - Sam goes to church service twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Not always though: he didn't go a second time (or at least he makes no mention in the diary) on 9 and 16 December. Is there an explanation for this, or is it just Sam's whimsy? It can't have been for the (dull) sermon in the afternoon...

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"To church..." I think it was just for socializing;there was not much else to do; he could go to taverns also which he did quite often.

vincent  •  Link

Are the taverns still closed while there is a sermon[homine] being read?

vincent  •  Link

Gifts ? For those that want to share their joy and excess{wealth} [I believe not too many]. Then the rest of the gift giving is either for a little corruption of mind, body or persuasion for future benefits. The Puritans did see it as evil.

dirk  •  Link


"Timeo Danaos dona ferentes" as the Romans said.

(transl. "I fear the Greeks when they are bringing gifts.")

Mike Barnas  •  Link

Sorry, dirk, I believe the line is:
"Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes,"
meaning "I fear the Greeks even when they come bringing gifts."


Charlezzzzz  •  Link

Candlesticks for Coventry a gift?
Well...sort of a "gift." A couple of days back, Pepys wrote: "... Commissioner Pett ... told me that he had lately presented a piece of plate (being a couple of flaggons) to Mr. Coventry, but he did not receive them, which also put me upon doing the same too..." In other words, Pett gave Coventry silver in the form of plate. Coventry gave them back ("did not receive them") so Sam, hoping for the same result, decided to give the same kind of "gift." In just the same way, some corporate executives today get "gifts" from the outside vendors they use; many keep the "gifts," and some return the "gifts" with thanks. Corrupt? Or merely trade practice? It's common today; in Pepys' time it was universal.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

That gift & Tom's reason for visiting

"... my brother Tom (who this morning came to see my wife's new mantle put on, which do please me very well)”

Pepys does NOT say that Tom is simply paying a Christmas visit — Tom came to see the mantle on Elizabeth. As a tailor, he would have a professional interest in the item. He’d probably look at the seams, the cloth, the cut, comment on how well it was made and get some idea of how he might make one the same or differently, possibly to follow different fashions. Fashions must be changing in the year that the King and Queen returned and started leading high society.

A mantle (a loose-fitting cloak) and muff (a tube of fur or cloth) must be among the simplest things for a tailor to make, even if he didn’t normally make them.

It’s possible that Tom or his father, John Pepys made the mantle and sold it to Elizabeth. It sounds a little cold, but perhaps the mantle was expensive. As I pointed out in my notes above, Pepys mentions Elizabeth and his father involved in the purchase of a mantle and muff on 21 December, and L&M’s version says she’s buying it “with him,” our version here doesn’t.

If Tom or John Pepys made the mantle, then Tom is examining an item to make sure everybody is satisfied, although it seems a little late in the process for that.

vincent  •  Link

Re: gifts: It is said that gifts persuade even the gods.
- Medea (964) [Gifts]
Benefits are acceptable, while the receiver thinks he may return them; but once exceeding that, hatred is given instead of thanks.
[Lat., Beneficia usque eo laeta sunt dum videntur exsolvi posse; ubi multum antevenere pro gratia odium redditur.]
- Tacitus (Caius Cornelius Tacitus), Annales (IV, 18)
To accept a favor is to sell one's freedom.
[Lat., Beneficium accipere, libertatem est vendere.]
- Syrus (Publilius Syrus), Maxims

MONEY AND FRIENDS do not mix. It is better to be thought as money OR friends.

Pauline  •  Link

..."(who this morning came to see my wife's new mantle put on, which do please me very well.)”

I’m reading this as Elizabeth having gone to Sam’s father’s shop to order a mantle and muff. This morning, brother Tom brings the mantle and puts it on Elizabeth to see how she and Sam like it. Sam is very well pleased. I doubt a mantle or muff requires a lot of fitting, but there is a certain professional presentation in putting it on and seeing how it looks. And fun for Elizbeth to “model” the new garment for her husband and Tom.

The plan may have been for him to bring it today when he came to them for Christmas dinner.

Hic retearivs  •  Link

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentis.

Retearivs sed scholaticvs non svm'is not the second line correct? 'Ferentis' modifies 'dona', isn't that what was intended? In either quotation, 'dona' is not in the accusative and in any case (!) could not possibly be plural. Was not old Laoco'n peering at the gift and expressing the idea that he smelled a rat. Isn't he saying there, essentially: 'I don't believe this horse; what the hell ever it is, I fear Greeks even be they of the giftborne variety'? The 'gift' and the 'bearing' are singular.

Let us not perpetuate an error.

What we need on this board is a Latin scholar. Please, somebody step forward and make a decree.

vincent  •  Link

'tis pandora's box: google says " ...es" to "...is "1460 to 161.
"oxford" says
Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.
Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.
Aeneid bk. 2, l. 48
Lets here from Rome.

language hat  •  Link

dona ferentes
Of course dona is plural; it's the nom/acc plural of donum 'gift.' Ferentes modifies Danaos 'Greeks bringing.' With all due respect, if your Latin is that rusty, you shouldn't be trying to correct quotes.

Onion  •  Link

Ferentis is accusative plural.

It goes with DANAOS, not dona.

Allen/Greenaugh 118 shows the morphology of adjectives and present participles.

-is is a proper accusative plural.

Don't claim factual knowledge before looking it up. Odds are good the OCT and Virgil know more latin than you.

Second Reading

joe fulm  •  Link

proof that even in 1660 Christmas day, without the surprise in children, is a dull day

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

' . . As related in the Aeneid, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, . . Calchas induces the leaders of the Greek army to offer the Trojan people a huge wooden horse . . while seemingly departing. The Trojan priest Laocoön . . warns the Trojans not to accept the gift, crying, Equō nē crēdite, Teucrī! Quidquid id est, timeō Danaōs et dōna ferentīs. ("Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Danaans, even when bringing gifts.") . .

Although the commonly used form of this quotation has ferentēs (with a long ē), the original text has ferentīs (with a long ī). The "-ēs" form is more common in classical Latin . . '


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The first-known use of the phrase 'Merry Christmas' was in a letter written by Bishop John Fisher to Thomas Cromwell during his imprisonment in the Tower of London in 1534.

In a bleak and un-merry plea, the condemned Bishop begged Cromwell for some clothes, a sheet, and food, and hopefully requests his release from the cold prison. Fisher ended his letter wryly, “And thus our Lord send yow a mery Christenmas".

Bishop Fisher was beheaded on 22 June 1535.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

1660 is the first Christmas under Charles II, so my guess is that people had forgotten how, or could not afford to excessively celebrate Christmas.* The secular traditions had been officially banned for 7 years, and unofficially for many generations by the Puritan / Presbyterian half of the population.

The institutional memory was there: Christmas carols in English first appeared in 1426 in the work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain. Carols we know were originally communally sung during celebrations like harvest thanksgiving and Christmas. Later carols were included in church services, and became associated with Christmas alone.

Martin Luther and other reformers wrote carols and welcomed their use during church services so they became popular in Protestant countries.

The late Tudor Christmas festivities mixed religious traditions and excessive social behavior (for those who could afford it).
By the mid-1500s Puritan pamphleteers (e.g. Philip Stubbs) were questioning these excessive social activities as undermining Christian observations while encouraging immoral behavior.

After the outbreak of the English Civil Wars, Parliament represented Puritan views, including the rejection of Christmas social activities as encouraging immoral behavior.
On 19 December, 1643 an ordinance was passed directing subjects to treat the mid-winter period “with the more solemn humiliation because it may call to remembrance our sins, and the sins of our forefathers, who have turned this feast, pretending the memory of Christ, into an extreme forgetfulness of him, by giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights”.

The rejection of Christmas as a festive period was enforced when a 1644 ordinance abolished the feasts of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun.

In January 1645, Parliament produced a new Directory for Public Worship that clarified the festival days, including Christmas, were not to be celebrated but spent in respectful contemplation.
From then until the Restoration, Christmas was officially banned. (John Evelyn, who was Church of England, celebrated it with a service in his home, and was arrested.)

Cromwell did not personally initiate the banning of Christmas, but his rise to power condoned these measures which ended the celebrations.

So this is the first Stuart noel for Puritan Pepys. He doesn't know how to "do" Christmas to our expectations.

* I remember my early childhood in Britain after WWII. If I hadn't been there, I doubt my parents would have done much. A couple of modest gifts, a few cards, maybe a small tree, and a nice dinner, yes, but what I now recognize as exhaustion, rationing, sky high taxation, PTSD, and national grief eliminated "fun". Unless you were an alcoholic ... which I suspect was a problem for the Stuarts as well as the post-war British.

And my parents' generation hadn't just lost 1/10th of the population to a civil war and famine, as these Stuarts had. Recovery takes time.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... in the late 1650’s, the authorities were still instructing Justices of the Peace to stop the festivities, a clear admission that ban on Christmas hadn't worked.

"John Evelyn’s diary shows that he was unable to find a service to go to until 1656.
Then on 25 December, 1657, John Evelyn was with his wife in the private chapel of Exeter House, on the north side of the Strand, when he was arrested. The sermon had ended, and the priest was distributing communion, when soldiers burst in. “These wretched miscreants”, he later wrote, “held their muskets against us as we came up to receive the Sacred Elements, as if they would have shot us at the Altar.” Evelyn was held for 24 hours, lectured on his "ignorance", and then released.

"After the Restoration of Charles II, Christmas Day that year witnessed open, well-decorated, and well-attended churches. John Evelyn went to Westminster Abbey, where he was thrilled to find that “The Service was also in the old Cathedral Musique.”

"Christmas traditions condemned by the Puritans were now seen as signs of loyalty to the restored monarchy and the re-established Church of England. The “good ribs of beef roasted and mince pies . . . and plenty of good wine” with which Samuel Pepys typically marked the festival were symbols not only of Christmas, but also of the return to right order of the nation as a whole.

"Not everyone approved, for John Evelyn recorded on 25 December 1662, that the curate had preached on “how to behave ourselves in festival rejoicing”."

Excerpted from

But meanwhile, in Earls Colne, in Puritan Essex:

Diary of Ralph Josselin (Private Collection)
(Thursday 25 December 1660)

"25. This day I preached a sermon of Christ from. Jo: 3.16.
divers not there and some in their antique postures,
lord I desire to advance thy name, no profaneness nor formality, accept me and pardon me in thy christ."

The Puritans protested by their absence from church.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Last year, government offices would have been officially open. Around Christmastime, the Pepyses received a brawn from Elizabeth Mountagu and, from Edward Mountagu, a dozen bottles of sack on 2 Jan. 1660 as a "New Year's gift" (L&M Vol. 1, p 4, note 1)."

"... my wife cut me a slice of brawn which I received from my Lady;"

David Q has done sterling work about Christmas for us. But 2 clarifications:

Lady JEMIMA Crew Montagu is married to Edward Montagu, Earl of Sandwich. He said Elizabeth -- and we have more than enough Elizabeths to deal with in the Diary!

And people gave their gifts to servants and trades people on or around Boxing Day (but it wasn't called that for a couple more centuries) -- and gifts to family and colleagues like Coventry on New Year's Day.
(Why? The 3 Wise Men were not at the Nativity.)

William Crosby  •  Link

SD Sarah, I so enjoy your scholarship and other contributions, but you really outdo yourself in setting the context for this first Restoration Christmas by casting it in the historical context of Christmas in the preceding two centuries.

RLB  •  Link

Gifts, in these days, if they were given at all, would be given a. not in England, but in the Low Countries and northern Germany; b. not lavish, but just a toy to a child or perhaps an orange or something like that, and most of all c. on Saint Nicholas' Eve, so three weeks ago. And make no mistake, Saint Nicholas was *not* Sanity Clause!

Father Christmas was another thing altogether. As far as I can tell (but I admit I'm not sure here) he was a tradition *before* Cromwell in England, and became one again a century later; and was, in some form or another, - maybe even in the St. Nick-form aforementioned - present in southern Germany and adjoining regions. He was reimported *in that form* into England in Victorian times, partly because Victoria was, well, German.

And then there is a whole lot of other traditions involving Odin, Yule lads, and so on, which it would take too much time to go into. But in any case, in Sam's time, the current tradition of Chrimbo stocking-filling was decidedly not the fashion. Neither - but that's probably no surprise to any reader - were tree-adorning or card-sending (if only for the lack of postage stamps).

LKvM  •  Link

Re Charlezzzzz's comment above about Coventry and the flagons, this goes back to yesterday and the matter of Pett having ordered some silver flagons to be sent to Coventry "but he did not receive them."
I took this to mean that "receive" meant "accept," i.e., Coventry did not accept them.
Perhaps based on my error (sorry!), several others thought the same, and, since the gifts could be interpreted as a bribe, they attributed Coventry's non-acceptance to his virtuous character,
But I was wrong. "Receive" did not mean "accept," and it's just another case of something that happens occasionally in Pepys's diary, the knotty question of "what or who" is the antecedent of a pronoun, this time the antecedent of the "he" in "he did not receive them.
The answer is not Coventry, it's Pett. Pett did not receive the flagons timely, and therefore he had to wait to send them to Coventry, who, virtue to the contrary notwithstanding, did accept them.

MartinVT  •  Link

The candlestick discussion above is on the wrong page. Sam heard about Pett's flagons yesterday, and the fact that "he" did not receive them.

Anyway, I respectfully disagree with LKvM, I think it's pretty clear that Coventry simply did not accept them; Sam therefore has the idea of doing the same thing — offering a gift, having it turned down, and getting credit for the "thought that counts".

"Receive" meaning "accept" is used elsewhere in the diary. For example back on May 4, Sam paraphrases this paragraph in a letter written by Sandwich:

"That my Lord is very joyful that other countries do pay him the civility and respect due to him; and that he do much rejoice to see that the King do resolve to receive none of their assistance (or some such words), from them, he having strength enough in the love and loyalty of his own subjects to support him."

And on April 9, 1661, Sam will reflect as follows:

"...in general it was a great pleasure all the time I staid here to see how I am respected and honoured by all people; and I find that I begin to know now how to receive so much reverence, which at the beginning I could not tell how to do."

In both instances the language makes sense only if "receive" means "accept". Naturally, Sam uses "receive" in other senses as well.

LKvM  •  Link

You are absolutely right, as I see in the Jan 10 entry:
"After dinner Will comes to tell me that he had presented my piece of plate to Mr. Coventry, who takes it very kindly, and sends me a very kind letter, and the plate back again; of which my heart is very glad."
The antecedent of "he" in "he did not receive them," IS Coventry after all, and "receive" means "accept," after all.
(I should have quit when I was ahead.)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Anglican Christmas of the 17th century was about the gift of Christ from God to humankind, not 21st century plastic chotskies from Mum and Dad to little Alfie. Think Hallelujah Chorus, not Jingle Bells.

This is how John and Mary Browne Evelyn spent the day:

"25th December, 1660. Preached at the Abbey, Dr. Earle, Clerk of his Majesty's Closet, and my dear friend, now Dean of Westminster, on Luke ii. 13, 14, condoling the breach made in the public joy by the lamented death of the Princess."

The Diary of John Evelyn (Vol 1)

By the sound of it, Dr. John Earle, Dean of Westminster at the time, tried to moderate the Anglican joyful spirit at Christmas by speaking of the loss of Mary, so if people were a bit confused by how to dress and behave, they had cover.

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