December 2010 Volume 5, Issue 5
A Christmas Edition
brought to you by Author Linore Rose Burkard
Note: For your enjoyment, the right sidebar is dedicated this issue to illustrations only-- of Regency Christmas/winter content. Enjoy!
A Regency Yule-Tide: What Was it Like?
by Linore Rose Burkard
Whether one lived in a manor or a tenant-cottage, there would likely have been decorations for Christmas in the home, beginning with greenery. The custom is, in fact, as old as the hills. English homes used much the same greenery we do today. The difference lies in that ivy was used more than is done now (at Christmastime, I mean) and in the fact that all the greenery would have been authentic.
(No imitations existed; and the use of certain greens was still faintly tied to its legendary meanings. For instance, holly, with its sharp leaves and red berries, symbolized the crown of thorns and blood shed by Christ.. )
The Look of a Regency Christmas
Nature provided what was used, in contrast to our modern lights and synthetic greenery.
Herbs were handy and popular (besides being useful to the cook) and would have been included in the home-made festoons of holly, ivy, berries and tree boughs from evergreen trees.
Mistletoe is another age-old custom replete with various superstitions, and some churches in the eighteenth and nineteenth century refused to use the greenery at all. More relaxed churches did decorate with it, and by the time of the Regency it was known by many names, most often being called, "the kissing bough." But it wasn't until later in the century that the middle class adopted the custom of kissing beneath it. During the regency, only the servant classes would have observed the intimate implications of being found beneath it.
No doubt a few cold winter evenings were spent by the women in a household, preparing the greenery for their Christmas celebration. It was likely a pleasant change from the usual sewing basket.
Either the ladies of the house, or the servants would prepare swags, wreaths and festoons to use as decorations. In addition, despite the presence of a cook in most middle or upper class homes, the daughters of a house would probably choose the fat oranges they would hang for drying, to be later pricked with cinnamon sticks and used as aromatic pomanders; the mistress of a house would be planning the Christmas pudding, which was best started well in advance of the big day, and whatever else she traditionally served on the holiday.
According to the means of the home and the temperament of its inhabitants, I have no doubt that Christmas decorating was at times quite elaborate. Having said that, we must remember there would have been no tree to centre one's attention on; or, if there was, it would have been a table-top specimen; Nothing like the tall trees we use today or see in Victorian artwork.
The tall Christmas tree WAS introduced to England in 1800 by Queen Charlotte, but it didn't gain notoriety or popularity until much later, when Prince Albert (who shared the same Germanic heritage as Queen Charlotte) re-introduced it, starting a fashion.
Did You Know?
Holly is thought to represent the drops of blood which fell from Christ's crown of thorns. As such, legend held that it protected against witches.
Let us say that a tabletop tree was in place; Being much smaller than what we are accustomed to, it only makes sense that presents therefore had to be smaller as well. In fact, they were small and ideally light enough to hang upon the branches. Candles were not widely used to illuminate them, contrary to popular belief, for they had to be constantly guarded. They were most likely employed only on Christmas Eve or other special occasions when company was present, but even then only with a dutiful servant standing sentinel with a bucket of water!
Did You Know? Some have attributed Martin Luther to the custom of candles on trees, saying he was inspired to light the family tree after walking home one evening of particular stellar beauty. When he arrived indoors, he wished to recreate the scene of the glorious heavens. It is considered almost certainly to be a legend, however, and no facts exist to support the theory.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into a Regency Christmas. This excerpt was taken from my ebook: Regency House Christmas: The Definitive Guide to a Remarkably Regency Yuletide! It is my number two project for 2011 to get it updated, indexed, and available in multiple ebook formats. Right now it is available as PDF only. If interested in purchasing a copy, click here to download the Contents & Bibliography pages. If you like what you see, the ebook is availabe at my lowest price ever--and one that gets you the ebook as well as a fabulous bunch of Christmasy bonus ebooks for only $9.95.
|THE JANE CONTEST |
(Let Your Voice Be Heard)
|Before I run another Jane Contest, I have to admit: I was stumped by all the wonderful entries for last month. I had asked if Jane Austen had a blog today, what would she call it? |
I loved so many of your suggestions that I just couldn't decide upon the winner. Therefore, I'm putting it to a vote:
Please take a look at the top entries below and hit reply and send me the # of your favorite choice. Just put the # in the subject line, or in the email.
Which of the following do you most think Jane herself would have approved of and perhaps used for her very own spot on the blogosphere?
ENTRIES (in random order)
#1. Sweet Persuasion
#2. The Sense of Society
#3. A Sensible Commentary
#4. A Hint of Persuasion
#5. Talk of the Ton
#6. Miss Jane Austen's Forum For Females
#7. Miss Jane Austen's Foundation For The Education of Females
#8. Muslin Snippets (Prettily Tied Up with Coquelicot Ribbon)
#9. Excessively Diverting
#10. Diverting Drivel
#11. Chatter from Chawton
#12. Sweet Sorrow
The winner will win their choice of any of my three books, along with an autographed mini-poster of the book cover.
Send your votes with the number of your favorite blog title to Linore (at) LinoreRoseBurkard (dot)com.
Two new subscribers to my mailing list win a book each issue. This month's winners are:
Congratulations, winners! Send me your complete mailing address so I can get a book out to you right away.
|Do you own a Kindle? A Sony Nook?|
If not, don't fret: Amazon offers free "Kindle for PC" software, so that you can read Kindle books on your
pc. Other providers are beginning to do the same.
Even better, if you later decide to get an actual Kindle, you will be able to easily move every book you've collected for your PC app onto your new Kindle. So start collecting.
Here's a partial list of my recently acquired ebooks. (If you don't have a Kindle, your ebook reader may be able to transpose a Kindle ebook.) This month, I've added quick links so you can easily download the books if you are so inclined. If for some reason a link doesn't work, simply go to Amazon (the Kindle store) and enter the titles in the search box.:
Pemberley Chronicles JA Fan Fic. I don't usually read this genre, but I'm willing to try it since the price was right. No longer free, unfortunately, but I mention for all the fan-fic fans out there!
Crossing Oceans I liked the title.
Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions Throughout the Ages
(Can't wait to read this one! ha)
The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask
(Are there such questions? I know of none.)
This one's by Randy Alcorn.
Danger in the Shadows- I just read this and loved it.
Oh! Money! Money! A vintage book that comes highly recommended and is supposed to be very funny.
NEW! Available for a limited time only. Kathi Macias's
Valeria's Cross. Get it while the giveaway lasts.
Also free this week:
Deadly Sanctuary, a Thomas Nelson title.
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
Finally, I would be remiss not to remind ebook readers that my first two books are available in Kindle format. I expect that the third, The Country House Courtship, will show up there one of these days as well.
Prefer print books? You may wish to search for a title at a discounted price at CBD.com in this search box, below.
The Jane Austen AGM, Portland, OR
|What's an AGM, you ask?|
It's the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and I, now a faithful member, got to go, even though it meant flying across the country to do so. My long-suffering husband came along. I was able to enjoy the AGM while he got to enjoy Oregon (pronounced, Oregin) scenery.
I took so many photos that I actually got TIRED of taking them. But the outfits were exquisite. Of the 600 or so people who attended, roughly 300 or more were in costume. During the Regency ball, there was hardly a second when I wasn't smiling at the thrill of being there. The dancing was marvelous, and having a small "orchestra" (just as they did during the regency) was sublime.
I've put some more photos on my blog, but by next month's ezine I should have a slide-show ready for you with ALL of the pictures. (Don't miss it.) Also, if you are in one of them and can identify yourself for the rest of us, by all means do so! If you recognize a friend or colleague in one, please forward them the link so they can see it for themselves.
People in costume are always pleased to be photographed, as they should be. The workmanship (or should I say, tailoring) in many of the gowns, spencers, bonnets, even reticules, was definitely 'of the first water.'
This was my first AGM, and I think I'm hooked. Next year's will be in NYC, and I hope by then to join the number in period dress. What fun!
Remember, you can see a preview of the photos from the event HERE.
To learn more about JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) or to join, see this page of their website.
|This debut author is in a fight for her life. To learn more about her book or the struggle she's in, see the details here.|
Not only is Ms. Rog a friend of mine, but I hear she's a wonderful author. The Master's Wall is on my TBR (to-be-read) pile near my bed. Her publisher is donating $1 of every book sale to go towards her medical bills. You can help this mother of four by getting a copy of her book--you'll get a great read and do a good deed all at the same time. On Sandi's behalf, I thank you for your support.
AMAZON link to The Master's Wall, or
KINDLE EDITION link
|1. What fun.A list of the ten best dressed Authors in history. Take a peek and you'll understand why I had to include this. (Can't say I agree with all their choices, though.) |
2. Victoriana Magazine has a blog for Victorian style living featuring fashion and accessories, house remodeling and home decor, entertaining and holidays, food and recipes, history and lifestyles, and much more...
3.Can't get enough of Jane Contests? Try the monthly quiz from the Jane Austen Centre Newsletter.
4. You'll find this excessively diverting, to be sure. Paper dolls of four famous dandies including, of course, that most famous of regency gents, the dashing Brummell. Ha!
5. Ellen Moody's interesting take from last season on Jane Austen and Christmas. Click Here to see her illustrated blog post.
6. I've updated the media page of my website so that it now contains the link to nearly every interview, audio, radio, whatever, that I've ever done! If you're curious (and brave) check it out here. Scroll down for links to articles I've written and guest posts.
7. Just for Fun: How to Wrap a Cat for Christmas
8. Still can't get enough of great costume photos? Take a look at this page from the group "We Make History." I love how there are so many young girls in this event!
|Quote of the Month
You will find that the mere resolve not to be useless, and the honest desire to help other people, will, in the quickest and delicatest ways, improve yourself.
- John Ruskin
Writing historical romance doesn't mean my head is always in the past--though sometimes my kids seem to think so. In fact, at times I have to prove that I'm truly involved with them. (Just cooking and cleaning isn't enough, apparently!)
One year, I baked up piles of little cut-out cookies and constructed an Advent calendar using simple plastic snack bags (like sandwich bags, only smaller) and pinned them (using safety pins) in calendar fashion, to a felt background. I hung the finished "calendar" from a wooden dowel. Each day's bag held four cookies--one for each child, as I only had four, then--and was numbered on the outside with a permanent marker. Prettier than the one I made, but this is the idea
My calendar wouldn't have won any "Good Housekeeping" awards for beauty, but oh, the children loved it! Since it was a visual reminder of the coming big day as well as a gustatory delight, it had a double impact. Add to that a simple daily reading from scripture or an appropriate book of our choice, and we had a wonderful family activity that brought meaning to all the bustle and busyness of the season. It also "translated" into kid consciousness that I was still their mom, still involved with THEM.
Kids can sense when your activity does not have to do with them, by the way. They never say, "Mom, you cook too much," or, "Mom, you do too much laundry." These things have to do with them. But they sure can say, "Mom, you write too much!"
Have a blessed, family-and-friends-centered Christmas. And download my gifts for you (see below) before you go!
|December Free Downloads
#1. Elegant Victorian Stationary. Print out and use for your correspondence. Thanks to Susan Kistler for this.
#2. Elegant Victorian Stationary. Very different from above. Thanks to the Victoriana magazine website for this
Even if you can only print in black and white, the stationary still comes out quite lovely. For a little fun, you can touch up the dresses with a colored pencil if you like.
Until next time,Warmest blessings for the merriest of Christmases, LinorePS: Remember to pick up your free downloads before you go!
A Victorian picture, but Christmasy, nonetheless. Notice the holly arranged decoratively across the balustrade, top. This picture makes me long to put the scene in a book. (What is that man praying so earnestly about?! Isn't it fun to conjecture?)
During the Regency and Victorian era, Christmas and Church went hand-in-hand. This was true across all classes. The lower classes may have attended a Methodist or Dissenter meeting, while the upper were mostly strictly Anglicans.
I've been reading the biography of John Newton (author of the hymn, Amazing Grace) and his in-laws were outraged when it looked like he might join the Methodists. Their concern was not a religious issue, but a social one. Only the Church of England was thought to be truly respectable!
Here's a nice wintery ensemble, from 1816
|Above, a Georgian print, titled, "Skating." Skating was a popular winter pastime during the Regency, too. |
A delightful Victorian print. This woman looks to be leaving church by sleigh. Her liveried servant, apparently, will be the means of locomotion!
Another quaint "singing in church" print. I love it.
"By the Fire" of a humble abode.
Ice hockey on the Thames.
1826 Evening Dress. Just a few years before the end of the reign of George IV (formerly, the Regent).
The lady on the left is sporting a luscious winter cloak.
A nicely sturdy winter ensemble from 1817, smack dab in the regency. This lady is "all the crack."
A wintery "Walking Dress." Lovely color print.
The Banquet Hall at the Royal Pavilion. With the addition of holly and ivy, the Regent would have held his holiday dinners here.
A lovely walking dress ensemble from 1817.
Above: A rough image of a man ready for the cold of winter.
French regency era gentleman. Layers of clothing, gloves and a hat suggest he would be warm outdoors despite wintery weather. A gentleman's wardrobe was better suited for the cold than a woman's, but this imbalance changed over the course of the century.
Here's a dashing fellow from 1811 who is ready for the weather, wearing a "many-caped greatcoat." I love to put my regency heros in this garment.
This man's garments seem almost too cosy to be meant for the outdoors, but in any case they look reassuringly warm.
This is an October Walking Dress, not meant for deep cold, which is fortunate as the shawl is purely decorative.
This is Caroline, the Queen Consort who somehow couldn't make herself look dignified, even for a portrait. Her dress is notable for its appearance of warmth, even though it has short sleeves. Notice her expression and the thing she fiddles with in her hand: she might just as well have said, "I'M BORED."
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|MERRY CHRISTMAS |
Praise the Lord, for Christ is born!