British Library@britishlibrary

We're the national library of the UK. We'd like to show you some of our beautiful collections and tell the stories of the people who use them.

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This 16th-century collection of hymns from Finland includes one of the first known compilations of Christmas carols. Rediscovered in England during the Victorian era, some of its melodies became the basis for modern classics including ‘Good King Wenceslas’. #BLAdvent (Theodoricus Petri Cantiones de nativitate Domini et Salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi, from Piae Cantiones, 1582, British Library K.2.a.13)


While there doesn’t appear to be any truth to the rumour that Martin Luther invented the Christmas tree, he did play a part in the formation of other Christmas traditions, particularly in Germany. Click the link in our bio to read more about Christmas with the Luthers #BLAdvent


Avoid reading the surrounding French and these angels are Christmassy and definitely not trumpeting in the apocalypse (Royal MS 15 D II) #BLAdvent #ArtGold


‘A Christmas game to make a long evening short’. After originating in France and becoming popular in England in the second half of the 19th century, the Brothers Mayhew published a guide to the new game of Charades in 1850 – Acting Charades or Deeds not Words.
Refresh your memory on the rules with our blog, and it might just be the helping hand you need to beat the competition (who are otherwise known as family/friends…). Link in our bio.
#BLAdvent #ChristmasCountdown


Who’ll be looking out for the #Geminid meteor shower tonight? We’re getting all starry eyed already with this #BLHarryPotter collection item. This is Draco and Ursa Minor from 'Urania’s Mirror; or A View of the Heavens', London, 1834, Maps C.44.a.42.(2.) #astronomy


For today's #BLAdvent, follow the link in our bio and listen to the robin's song, described by 18th-century poet William Cowper 'with slender notes and more than half suppressed'. (Image: from The Robin Redbreast Picture Book, 1873)


Indulge in some mystery and whodunnit this Christmas. With a 3-for-2 offer on our bestselling #CrimeClassics, it's time to stock up on some holiday reading. Pop into our Shop or take a look online.


This manuscript is ‘Piske R Yeshayah Aharon’ – the decisions and commentaries of Isiah of Trani the younger, on different aspects of Jewish festivals and law. Manuscript created in Bologna or Rimini in 1374. This stunning page decorated with gold is from the section describing the laws associated with the festival of #Hannukah, which starts today (12 December) and runs for eight nights. At the top we can see a woman lighting the first candle on a Hannukiah.
This manuscript can be explored in full through the link in our bio or you can see it in our Treasures Gallery.


This is the ‘Book of the Seven Climes’ by Abū al-Qāsim al-‘Irāqī. He wrote books on alchemy and magic in the 1200s. This is the earliest study to focus solely on alchemical illustration.
According to the author, this image depicts a complex alchemical process, but in reality it has no alchemical meaning. Unknown to al-‘Irāqī, it actually reproduces an ancient monument erected in memory of King Amenemhat II, who ruled Egypt nearly 4000 years ago.

See this item in #Alchemy as part of our #BLHarryPotter exhibition. Book your ticket today, just follow the link in our bio.


#DidYouKnow the Old English word for manger was ‘binn’, the root of the modern word ‘bin’? Explore more with our Medieval Manuscripts team this #BLAdvent – follow the link in our bio for their blog on 'Bins, Books and Bodian'.


What do you call a Christmas elf who can sing? A wrapper. Now, even though there are no raps in our Christmas playlist, let it help get you into that festive spirit. Link in our bio #BLAdvent


More nut roast for the Marquess?
These menu cards and guest lists from the Ishbel MacDonald Archive offer an insight into life in 10 Downing Street during Ramsay MacDonald’s tenure. Ishbel’s mother died when she was a child, so she acted as her father’s host during his career. In the 1930s Downing Street expenses were covered by the Prime Ministers themselves and for the Ramsays, who did not have a great deal of money, this had to be carefully managed.
Find out more about the archive, which is a new acquisition, on our Untold Lives blog by following the link in our bio.