The Chrismas Archives

ABOUT COUNTESS MARIA
& THE CHRISTMAS ARCHIVES

(The following account was written several years before Countess Maria's death in 2007. The Archive is being carried on and expanded today by her husband Andrew Huber Von Staufer.)
Hello, and welcome to my personal file! If you don't want to read all this, please link to MEMORIES, and spare a little time to share a Christmas memory with me for my database.

PERSONAL DETAILS My name is Maria Hubert and I am married to Andrew, who is a second generation Pole.

My husband's family has an very long lineage back to Charlemagne in the 9th century, who granted the Staufers their title. The family went on to become the Imperial family of the Holy Roman Empire up to the 14th century, when the last Staufer Emperor died, and the name and family titles continued in the many small kingdoms and noble families throughout Germany and Europe, eventually linking with the Hohenzollerns through marriage, and the line of noble Huberts of Poland. who were granted their title by Katherine the Great of Russia. His mother is an Oakeshotte, and an Oakeshotte was playing Bowls with Sir Francis Drake when the Armada was spotted in the 16th century. A very colourful history! My side of the family are from Irish and Italian descent and almost as colourful.

My academic discipline was Church and Reformation History and Theology. I began training as a priests councillor under the guidance of the Benedictines and the lat Cardinal Hume. Later on, my chance to study the history and evolution of Christmas came when, as a Chef and food historian , I was commissioned by the BBC to research a series of food history programmes. After eight months of interviewing our senior citizens, I had amassed twelve tea chests of Christmas and Easter memorabilia, which they entrusted to my safekeeping.

Feeling honour-bound to look after these small treasures, I began to look into their history, first as a casual thing, later as a serious student. I went to Germany to learn all I could there about Christmas, and then continued, using my language skills to help me study old manuscripts and documents from many parts of the world. Gradually I began writing and then broadcasting as a Christmas Historian. In those days, hardly anyone studied Christmas, it was not something one could study at University, still isn't. I found I was in great demand, and by the time I met and married Andrew, there was a real market slot to be filled permanently.

Over the past thirty years I have become foremost in my field, helped create university modules for several universities, written ten books, worked on some forty others, and done more television programmes than I can remember! Always working from a home office base, I put looking after my three children foremost, and enjoyed being a full-time mother along with my career.

We launched our company Christmas Archives in 1978, a picture library and research centre which was to serve the publishing, broadcasting, manufacturing and academic fields for the next twenty years. In 1991, we sold a Christmas Museum Collection of approximately 100,000 artefacts, documents and pictures, to a Japanese corporation in Osaka, Felissimo, which company also has a department store in New York. They did a side deal with Kanemori Shosen, in lovely Hakodate, in the north of Japan, to create a Museum of Christmas in the historic Romanesque warehouses there. This has proven so popular that Felissimo are now doing Christmas exhibitions as far away as Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Having taken a back seat for the past seven years, to allow Felissimo some space to improve their own visibility in the field of Christmas, we are now back in the marketplace, with some interesting projects planned. Soon you will be able to buy exclusive merchandise with the Christmas Archives label, you can already buy my books through this site on links to Amazon or to the Internet Book Shop. Or you can order a signed copy of any book, personally dedicated to your name, direct from this site.

But the sales are not the reason for this site. It is a chance for me to give something in the spirit of Christmas. My books are always subject to editing, as anyone who writes will understand. Many things I would like to put into my books are left out. Ideas which I think will sell are not on the marketing teams agenda - this way I get to give you everything, published or no!

There are much livelier sites on the Net, heaving with beautiful graphics. My site is, I hope, quietly refined! The image is that of an old book - the border is like an old tooled leather binding, the pages are old cream parchment, the illustrations are antique black and white engravings. The information is some of the best researched material I can give you.

I have researched my links as carefully as my history, to give you a balance of Christmas around the world from all aspects. If you like solid religious sites, great graphics, old fashioned Christmas traditions, you will find them on my link pages, and as far as anyone is able to promise, my sites are all family safe. I have checked my links up to a dozen or more deep into the Net for content. Any which link to dubious sites ultimately, are left out no matter how good they may be.

But, that is as far as I can promise. The Web moves and grows so fast, and there are some bad taste sites out there even sporting the name of Christmas, and dear old Santa himself!

I have homed in on British Christmas as my main topic because there is so little good material on this subject available on the Net. But the site will continue to grow for as long as I can provide material that no-one else is currently supplying! So keep visiting and, as the Irish say, 'a Hundred, thousand welcomes to you!'

BEHIND THE SCENES

A cautionary Tale of British Broadcasting House!

BEFORE GOING ANY FURTHER I WISH TO EMPHASISE THAT THIS IS NOT A SPECIFICALLY RELIGIOUS SITE THERE ARE PLENTY OF SUCH SITES ALREADY ON THE NET FOR THOSE WHO ARE SERIOUSLY INTERESTED. I hope to link to a few of the best later on. So if you are looking for such a site, call back!

However, in order to put Christmas in its right place, a little religious history has to be included. This is the right moment I think to tell you of a funny story which happened to me some years ago.

I was presenting a series of programmes for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), and on the lead up to Christmas, throughout December, was doing a programme a day on the history of Christmas from the earliest times of ancient Babylonia and the Mesopotamians (Which you will be able to link to eventually I hope) intending to bring the programmes right up to date by Christmas Eve.

About half way through the series, we got to the Birth of Jesus, and naturally, the whole programme focused on this event. Afterwards, my producer told me that there had been a phone call from someone who said , "Why did you have to spoil this series by bringing religion into Christmas? I was enjoying it up to this evenings programme!"

Yes, well, everyone to their own feelings!!!

CHRISTMAS INFORMATION WANTED!!

I am a CHRISTMAS HISTORIAN, and I am presently working on a major project to create a PRIMARY SOURCE DATABASE of Christmas information. Personal recollections, memories and accounts from everywhere. This will be used by historians and researchers of the future to give them an accurate picture of our 20th century Christmas. If you have anything to offer, please mail me.

maria@christmasarchives.org

Like all historical projects, this is time consuming and non-profitmaking! Please Help.

Over the years, long before personal computers, I have been collecting first hand recollections and memories from people all over the world. Files stuffed with hand written notes and letters. Tapes with interviews. All these form the basis of this important work.

I am creating a database of primary source history 'living history' as one person described it, which will be used by historians and researchers for generations to come. Just imagine if we had files of notes on how the early settlers managed at Christmas, or the first villagers in 'New Amsterdam'. Or even further back. This can be our gift to people in the 21st century.

My accounts began with interviews with people up to their 90's, back in the 1960's, so my first hand accounts begin in the 1870's, with some remembering what their parents told them about Christmas in the 1840's. That is already a very good record. 150 years of living history, and we can make it almost 200, God willing.

Please spend a little of your time to send me some accounts of your Christmases, your parents, relatives etc. I am looking for personal family customs, which may have evolved from older traditions, especially in 2nd-3rd-4th generation European families in the Americas and the Antipodes. Also any personal memories of a special Christmas, a favourite gift or family recipe. Anything you have got! Please help make history.