The tradition of coins at Christmas has a very long history, from the three wise men bearing gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, to St Nicholas placing coins in stockings drying on the chimney ledge. Not to mention the slice of good luck if you find the silver sixpence in the Christmas pudding on Christmas day; somehow it’s just not Christmas without a coin – and yes, the chocolate ones count too!
Christmas is a special time of year, and in 2016 we joined in the festivities by striking the UK’s first official Christmas coin with the 2016 Christmas Nativity story Brilliant Uncirculated coin. Of course, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the tree, so this year, we are continuing traditions with a new design especially for the festive season; the 2017 Christmas Tree coin.
In homes across the country the tree is at the centre of festive celebrations. From when it’s brought into the home and decorated, to taking it down in the New Year, it plays a key part in making the season special. And, with the big day fast approaching, it won’t be long until families worldwide gather to decorate the tree and turn on the lights, adding a touch (or a lot) of festive sparkle to their homes! The tradition of decorating trees at Christmas dates back to over a thousand years, with the first Christmas trees making their way to the UK in the 1830s. Shortly after their arrival in the UK, in 1848, Prince Albert set up a tree in Windsor Castle, after this their popularity grew and trees have been somewhat of a Christmas staple ever since.
The 2017 coin encapsulates two of our favourite Christmas traditions, coins and trees, it can even be used as a Christmas card! The traditional Christmas tree is at the centre of this coin design by printmaker and engraver, Edwina Ellis. Edwina has created several coin designs for The Royal Mint in the past, including the Bridge £1 coins, showing major bridges in the four regions of the United Kingdom, and a £2 coin celebrating the 150 years of the London Underground.
Edwina said of her design; “I adore Christmas trees and always enjoy choosing one and then bringing it into my home to decorate it. This design of a traditional Christmas tree is based on the one I picked out last year. I managed to make the tree fit into a circle without cutting it off and this works well with the curve of the coin. I took great pleasure in hiding the decorations in the layers of the tree.”
As families across Britain and beyond get into the swing of the festive season, many may not be aware that they are following traditions handed down through centuries. From decorating the tree to paper crowns, it’s the little traditions that make Christmas magical. Whether it’s the gifts, the tree, the coin nestled in the coin of your stocking, or the Silver Six Pence in the pudding, somehow it’s just not Christmas without a coin!