Food was quite ornate during the Christmas season, and there were many traditional dishes that the Tudors enjoyed, such as boar's head, which was garnished with rosemary and bay. Other things that may have been prepared on Christmas (but were also general Tudor meals) were mutton, veal, pork, pig's feet, cheese and apples. The food would have been very nicely decorated and prettily delivered to the tables of noble men and women, and especially to the king and queen. They also had a variety of sweets to feast on after their Christmas supper, including 'minst pyes.'
Although the Tudors technically recognized the New Year as beginning on March 25th, they still celebrated January 1st in an exciting way - giving presents! This was the main gift-giving day of the season, although it mainly took place between people of higher standing. Everyone was expected to give King Henry a gift on this day, and he could either accept or reject it. If he accepted it, you were considered 'in his favor,' but if he rejected your gift, you were not so lucky. As the Showtime series "The Tudors" showed in one episode, King Henry accepted a New Year's gift of boar spears from Anne Boleyn, but rejected a golden chalice from Katherine of Aragon - a FACTUAL showing of how Henry's favor was shifting, and he would soon marry Anne!
After Henry received gifts, he would also give gifts to those who had been generous to him. It was also customary for the King to shower his queen and her ladies with gifts every season.
Tudor gifts varied quite a bit depending on the amount of money you had, or how close you were with the people you were exchanging with. Popular gifts included fabrics for making gowns, curtains, sashes, etc., saddles, jewels, linen shirts, spears, chalices, etc. These were gifts with a purpose, and they very rarely went to waste!
So enjoy today, as it is New Year's Eve, and remember that, about 500 years ago if you were at King Henry's court, you would be giving and receiving extraordinary gifts and feasting on traditional seasonal delicacies!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!