Christmas is a time associated with many family festive traditions.

Leaving the carrot out for Father Christmas, having the classic roast turkey with all the trimmings, the Queen's (or now the King’s) speech on TV followed by that blockbuster film that’s been on a streaming service for the past few years anyway.

However historically, there are more quirky, strange and wholesome customs in Dorset around the festive period that sound far more interesting than half of the things in the paragraph above, except maybe the turkey.

Some of these traditions have carried on to the present day.

Whilst glass decorations and ornaments nowadays are wrapped thrice in paper before being whacked in a box and taken up to the attic - the past generations of Dorset had a different end of holiday custom.

It was believed in Dorset that, if Christmas decorations were not taken down and burnt before the start of the year, then misfortune or even death could cause trouble to your household. Imagine having to start from scratch every year - but at least there would be more attic space.

One local tradition from the nineteenth century was the Christmas dole. The vicars of villages around the county would annually give away a pound of bread, pint of ale and mince pies to the poorest in the parish. Records show that this was last performed in Piddlehinton in 1837.

Parish records from Bradford Peverell showed other acts of charity and kindness at Christmas even earlier in the county. The Thistlethwayte charity, named after its founder Rev. John Thistlethwayte, would give a blanket to the poor every other year between 1700 to 1721. (PE-BRP/CH: Bradford Peverell Parish Records)

Mummers' plays were a big feature in the West Dorset countryside. The modern day equivalent would be an amateur dramatics group going out singing Christmas carols, as people would see groups of youth act out drama to houses decked in paper and tinsel.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Symondsbury MummersThe stories usually featured tales of St George and the Holy Wars, as well as a person with a hunchback dressed as Santa Claus. The famous Dorset Ooser mask is said to have been used in Mummers plays too.

It is said that once, the Chetnole mummers' had spent a night singing away at a haystack that they mistook for a house.

The tradition of plays was passed through the generations, but the First World War brought an end to it, however performances from descendants of the mummers' still carries on in Symondsbury, near Bridport.

The Shillingstone Christmas Bull was another tradition which saw a bull made of wood and cloth with a shaggy head and horns, like the Ooser. This horned creature however was more mischievous and would turn up to houses for food and drink whilst residents of the villages would flee.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Twelfth Night, or January 6, is a pretty standard day in 21st century Dorset, however in the past this day was set aside for a special tradition.

Apple howling or wassailing would take place at cider orchards in farms around the county.

People would visit the orchards with guns, trays, pans, kettles and cider. One tree was chosen to represent ‘the rest’ which the group would drink to, throw cider over and soak a piece of toast in. Yes. Really.

Then, the group would make a loud noise to ‘wake up’ the tree and scare away evil entities such as demons. Guns would be fired at the branches whilst the rest of the group would sing around the tree.

Another Dorset tradition saw people scoffing a mince pie on each of the 12 days before Christmas, going to a different person’s home each day for their festive treat.

Owners of cockerels were expectant for their bird to crow all night on Christmas Eve. This was to frighten away any evil spirits in the area, with a perk being that any bread baked that day would not go mouldy if the cock called.

With thanks to Dorset Folklore by Maureen Hymas, the Dorset History Centre blog