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I hope you are all enjoying the Christmas season and finding time to relax with family and friends. Here are a few Christmas historical fun facts for you! How do they relate to your own traditions?
Since we are talking Christmas historical fun facts, we have to start with mistletoe, do we not? I feel as though it is the backbone of every Christmas Regency story! The origin of mistletoe isn't entirely known, but one myth goes back to the Druids, when it was used as a symbol of fertility and cut for winter soltice ceremonies -- thus tying it to Christmas. During the regency era mistletoe was a simple arrangement decorated with ribbons and hung over a doorway or entrance.
Christmastide with His Countess takes place during the Christmas of 1813, one of the coldest -- and SNOWIEST -- on record. Which would make it, of course, difficult to get around in a carriage. With no way of plowing snow, besides traffic slowly trampling it down, sleighs were often used as a means of transportation. People would sit in an open sleigh, drawn by horses, and would wear heavy outerwear as well as tuck thick furs or blankets around themselves, with footwarmers at their feet.
The Yule Log is a staple in most historical romances set during the Christmas season. The tradition of the yule log goes back far beyond medieval times, though the exact origin is actually unknown. The log is a huge block burned in the home during the twelve days of Christmas. Once it has been set in the hearth and is lit, it is bad luck to have to re-light it again during the Christmas season. The tradition is held throughout Europe, and various regions call it different names, with various types of trees used for the log.
Where are the Christmas trees? Nowhere to be found in an English regency romance! While it is true that fir trees may have been used to celebrate the season throughout Europe as far back as a thousand years ago, the tradition didn't come to Britain until likely the 1830s, and even then didn't become popular until the next decade, when Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's German husband), set up a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle. Through the Victorian era, the trees were decorated with candles to represent stars.
In the Regency era, Christmas dinner could be a family affair or celebrated with close friends. The meat was often roast beef, venison, or boar’s (pig’s) head, and could also include goose, pheasant, peacock, or any other fowl. Turkey became popular in the Victorian era. Vegetables and stuffing for the fowl accompanied it, and a second course was often mince pie, also called Christmas pie or Twelfth Night Pie. And for dessert? Christmas pudding! Scarlett and Hunter discover in Christmastide with His Countess that they, however, much prefer their cook’s gingerbread, which was also a staple, as were butter shortbread and trifle. What are your favourite Christmas dishes?
With love and Christmas cheer,