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Merry Christmas, Everybody!
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Christmas in Regency Times
Celebrated since medieval times, the Twelve Days of Christmas was a time of celebration, feasting and dancing that began on December 26 and ended on January 6 (which much later become known as Epiphany). (Christmas Day is not part of the Twelve Days because it is considered a holy day and meant for solemn reflection instead of wild partying.)
Where did the Twelve Days come from? Apparently it took the Three Kings twelve days to find the Christ Child…and the twelfth day—January 6th—is when they gave Him their gifts. In Hispanic countries, January 6—el Día de los Reyes Magos—is when people exchange gifts, not on December 25th.
During the Twelve Days, neighbors would visit each other and share traditional holiday foods such as mince pie and wassail, and entertain themselves with games and songs. Other than caring for livestock, farm laborers and peasants took this time off as well to celebrate with their families and friends.
Many Christmas traditions were pagan in origin, however. Wassail, which was an ale-based drink with spices and honey, was used in a ceremony to sprinkle on the roots of apple trees to ensure a good crop. People would shoot off guns and make a lot of noise to scare away the demons and wake up the tree spirit. A pretty girl was selected to place cider-soaked pieces of toast in the tree branches. Then everyone would chant and sing traditional wassail songs. Although this is still practiced today in some areas, wassailing in the Regency had evolved into more of a “caroling”-type event, which you will see in my novella, A Twelfth Night Tale.
Regency Christmases tended to be more laid-back and relationship-oriented than our Christmases today. Decorations of holly and greenery, candles, roaring fires, the smells of Christmas goose and pudding, games of hoodman blind and charades, singing carols around the pianoforte, King Cake, helping others less fortunate, and engaging in lots of interaction with family and friends were the heart of Regency Christmas traditions.
No frenzied shopping, constant pressure to outdo everyone else, wearing oneself out so as to be too exhausted to enjoy the actual event. Also no Christmas trees or stockings (German traditions that came to England much later) or Christmas cards.
Wouldn’t it be great if Christmas were to return to the relaxed, people-oriented celebration it once was instead of the commercial hustle-bustle that causes stress and, eventually, credit-card shock? Or do you think it’s too late for that?
A random commenter on this post will win a Twelfth Night Tale Christmas charm bracelet.
About A Twelfth Night Tale
A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions
Without dowries and the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. But when the eldest attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, suddenly it seems as though Fate is smiling upon them.
Lucy knows that she owes it to her younger sisters to encourage Lord Bexley’s attentions, since marriage to a peer will secure their futures as well as hers. The man of her dreams has always looked like Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and, in any case, is betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to put away childhood dreams and accept reality…and Lord Bexley.
Andrew has returned from the Peninsula with more emotional scars to deal with than just the lame arm. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend “Little Lucy” who shows him the way out of his melancholy. He can’t help noticing that Lucy’s grown up into a lovely young woman, but with an eligible viscount courting her, he’ll need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.
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Susanna! Love this post about the Holiday and Christmas traditions of the Regency~
I will have to note this down. 🙂
And Thank you so much for celebrating Mary’s birthday with us!!!!
Reblogged this on doingsomereading and commented:
Some great info on Regency Christmas and Holiday traditions!!!
I have simplified Christmas over the years, I am happy to say. While others are rushing about like crazed loons, I am calm and relaxed. Everything is done and there is enjoyment in abundance.
bn100candg at hotmail dot com
I would love to read a historical Christmas story. I think that, as a whole, we are beyond going back to a simpler, quieter holiday time.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com
Well the hustle of Christmas is over and New Year’s Eve welcomed in the New Year and with the snow falling hopefully everyone will get a chance to just sit in front of the fire and read!
I guess my husband and I are more “old fashion” than I realized before because for us Christmas has always been about the old traditions and for the young (and young at heart). We still hang the home-made stockings by the chimney with care and Santa comes and eats the homemade cookies (that the grandchildren helped to make). The one thing that’s also been the same since we got married all those years ago is that when we’re sitting around the dinner table at Christmastime as well as New Years we always remember the good times but also remember those who have gone before us but are no longer with us and think of the joy they brought into our lives.
I guess we’re one of those “old timers” who still celebrate holidays very much like our ancestors did so many years ago. I do know it’s not the hectic rush so many today go through.Hnad-made gifts have always meant more in our family then anything that can be purchased and sometimes it’s even a matter or just giving a friend or neighbor some of that “firewood” that we got from some of the trees that came down when “Sandy” passed through. More than anything I think that we celebrate the joy of the season by letting those near and dear to us know that our love for them is never ending and always forgiving.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Thanks – I had been wondering where the 12 days came from!! https://twitter.com/ghwasd/status/418971937642016768
I totally think that it’s too late to stop the retail drama. Retailers make way too much money this time of year to ever let people forget to buy, buy, buy. However, we can all definitely try to bring it back as individuals and families. Giving to the needy, making cookies together, cutting down a tree, Christmas caroling…My family goes to see Christmas lights at a park in our town. It’s fun and family-oriented:)
cc_clubbs at yahoo dot com
Hi! I new here and to Susana Ellis author and books. I love finding new authors that I know I will like and her books.
I’m an old-fashion type of Christmas. Christmas is all about Jesus and giving, family, kids, friends also. Still hang Christmas Stockings up for the old and young. Baking cookies, etc. putting the cookies out for Santa and giving them to family and friends. Christmas Eve Mass and get together for family celebrations.
Hope you and everyone else had a Merry Christmas and Happy Safe New Year!!
Thanks to everyone for stopping by blog for Mary’s Hop! The randomly-chosen winner of the A Twelfth Night Tale Christmas charm bracelet is donnasquaw1952. Congratulations!
Hi! I hope I’m not too late to claim this prize. I just saw it, I lost everything I had saved in my computer bookmarked. My computer did a number on me and I had to take it to the fix me shop. It was there for over a month, then they told me it was my motherboard was bad. And of course it cost too much to fix. I’m disabled on a monthly fixed income so I had to borrow the money to buy a new computer. This new computer has Windows 8.1 and I’m lost because my old one had Windows Vista. I called AT&T tech support for a least 3 weeks everyday, sometimes twice a day for help. I’m still lost, just know a few things on here. Besides the bad luck with the computer I was also in a court battle over my 91 yr. old mom for guardianship. I’m mom’s only daughter at of 5 kids and my oldest brother’s wife thought she should be in charge. Mom made me her POA back in 2009 but that just made my sister-in-law made. Mom got real sick back in July with kidney failure, UTI, and she almost didn’t make it. When she was released I put her (doctor recommended) in a nursing home/Rehab to get her stronger so she could go home. The battle started, she I had to get mom a lawyer and I had to get one also. Been in court numerous times finally ended Mar. 14th, I hope. Mom right now doesn’t need a guardian, she can take care of her own affairs. Mom is living with me now, this way I don’t have to worry so much, than if she went home and lived by herself. Now I have to get her house cleaned out and up for sale, it’ll take me forever. Yes the case was dismissed, and I’m still her POA, thank God. Mom even said in court to the judge she wants to live with me and if she needed a guardian she wanted me. But the court went on until finally it was dismissed. Oh I forgot the sister-in-law and brother didn’t want mom only the control over mom’s estate for the money. So now you see why it’s taking so long to get back to you on winning this prize. I so do hope I can still claim it because I really would love to have it. But I will understand if I’m too late. Thanks Donna Harris