The shortest day of the year falls each December. It is known as the Winter Solstice and falls just days before Christmas Day.
Before Christianity came to the British Isles the Winter Solstice was held on the shortest day of the year (21 December). The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.
It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.
Many of these customs are still followed today. They have been incorporated into the Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas.
Jacqui Wood from Cornwall is the author of 'Prehistoric Cooking', as well as the founder and director of the Cornwall Celtic Village near Truro.
Here are a couple of her recipes as seen on BBC Spotlight on Wednesday 20 December:
500g medium oatmeal
250g stone-ground wheat flour
1tsp sea salt water to mix
Mix the flour and oatmeal together, add the salt and rub in the lard. Add enough water to make a dry dough and shape into flat cakes. Cook on a griddle until pale brown. When cold spread with butter or a slice of cheese.
Fish Baked In Clay
Any whole fish can be used for this dish. Leave the head on and gut them.
Sprinkle with celery see (Apium Graveolens) if possible and salt. Wrap in dried grasses and cover with clay.
The clay can be smeared directly onto the fish, if it is a thick skinned, scaly fish.
If the clay is put directly onto a thick-skinned fish like herring, it tends to make the flesh gritty with the clay when cooked.
After about forty minutes in an open fire the fish is cooked, juicy and ready to eat!
Enjoy more ancient recipes in Jacqui Wood's book 'Prehistoric Cooking' which is published by Tempus Publishing.