Celebrating a Regency Era Christmas on the Christmas Party Blog Hop + a Giveaway of “Christmas at Pemberley”

2014-ChristmasPartyBlogHop
The Christmas Season is the time for merry-making and parties… So come and join some wonderful authors (and their characters) for an Online Virtual Party! 

Browse through a variety of Blogs for a veritable feast of entertainment!
(And as with any good party, you’ll find a few giveaway prizes along the way!) The links are below…

Here is my contribution to the Blog Hop

Celebrating a Regency Christmas

fezziwigWhen most people consider a Regency Christmas, they envision a Victorian one. During the Regency Period (1811-1820), Christmastide began on Christmas Day and ended with a Twelfth Night celebration. There are few references to Christmas traditions in Regency literature other than the occasional wish for a “Happy Christmas” among story characters and real-life accounts. Even Jane Austen made few references to the day as anything other than an acknowledgement of Jesus’ birth.

scene-from-emma

Religious observances remained the foundation of English Christmases of the time. One must remember that in the 17th Century, to prevent subversion, the government banned Christmas celebrations. According to the Jane Austen Centre Magazine, “We have accounts from early 19th Century journals of Christmas days where the writer mentions the holiday, but makes absolutely no fuss about it. Likewise, there are records of newspapers, published on December 25th that do not even contain the word Christmas.”

In Chapter 14 of Austen’s Persuasion, we see how the schoolboys’ return home for the holidays is the most important event, not the celebration of Christmas itself. “Immediately surrounding Mrs. Musgrave were the little Harvilles, whom she was sedulously guarding from the tyranny of the two children from the Cottage, expressly arrived to amuse them. On one side was a table occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were trestles and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard in spite of the noise of the others.” cruikshank-christmas-pudding-served-at-dinner-party-life-magazine-image

stir_upThe Christmas pudding is traditionally made on Stir Up Day, the last Sunday before Advent. All family members of a household take a turn in the stirring with a special wooden spoon, which represents the Christ Child’s crib and the stable. Stirring in a clockwise direction with his eyes closed, each person makes a secret wish during his turn at the spoon – very much as one might do before blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.

In country houses, the occupants hung decorations on Christmas Eve. These remained in place until the Epiphany on January 6, when they were removed. One might hang holly, ivy, rosemary, evergreen, hawthorn and hellebore (Christmas rose). As for the mistletoe/kissing ball, it became quite elaborate during the Victorian Period. However, many believe the tradition remained below stairs in the servants’ quarters during the Regency Period. Yet, the kissing ball and the removal of the berries for each kiss “stolen” from a lovely heroine is often found in Regency-based romances. pudding3

ye-old-yule-logA Yule Log to burn throughout the festive days would have been common, as well as a Christmas candle. The kindling from the previous year’s Yule Log would be used to light the current year’s find. Groups – mummers whose origins date back to the Middle Ages – sang and performed short plays, customarily on Boxing Day (December 26). The actors often mixed bits of history with the heroes of the British Napoleonic Wars in their tales. Of course, Saint George remained a staple of the plays.

Parlor games entertained houseguests, but  caroling (except possibly in Wales), decorated trees, stockings hung by the chimney with care, and  Christmas cards were not part of the celebrations. Gifts were few and often took the form of charitable acts by the aristocracy. A landowner’s cottagers might bestow a gift symbolizing their devotion to his generosity or representing the bounty of the estate’s harvest on the main house. A Regency Christmas was a time to reflect upon one’s religious beliefs and to enjoy the companionship of friends and family. It was not the commercialized holiday we of this century would expect.regency-christmas-4

In creating my Austenesque novel, Christmas at Pemberley, the challenge was to tell a tale of “Christmas” for a modern audience, but to stay true to the Regency Period’s practices. In the novel, Christmas arrives on a Sunday. It is 25 December 1814, the time period between Napoleon’s arrival on Elba and his escape in March 1815. I shifted the story’s emphasis from the expected symbols of Christmas (gifts, carols, trees, etc.) to the birth of two children and how each child’s entrance into this world changes the family into which he is introduced. I used the holiday’s practices as the framework through which the story is told. [Leaving a comment below will enter you into a giveaway of a signed copy of “Christmas at Pemberley.” – Deadline midnight 26 December 2014]

Christmas at Pemberley
A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Sequel
By Regina Jeffers
9781569759912-011A festive holiday novel in which personal rivalries are resolved, generosity rediscovered, and family bonds renewed.

It’s Christmastime at Pemberley and the Darcys and Bennets have gathered to celebrate. With such a mix of eclectic characters under one roof, bitter feuds, old jealousies, and intimate secrets quickly rise to the surface. Stubborn Lady Catherine seeks forgiveness, shallow Caroline Bingley finds love, and immature Kitty pursues a vicar. Forced into playing hostess, Georgiana Darcy tries desperately to manage the chaos while wishing Darcy and Elizabeth would return from their journey.

Enroute home, Darcy and Elizabeth are waylaid by blizzard-like conditions that forces them to take shelter in a nearby inn. Elizabeth is tormented with the prospect of their spending Christmas away from their families, but when a young couple arrives at the inn in need of a place for the night, Elizabeth’s concern turns to the pregnant girl. As Elizabeth and Darcy comfort and soothe the stranger through a long and painful labor, they’re reminded of the love, family spirit, and generosity that lie at the heart of Christmas and which serve as the basis of what they have built at Pemberley.

Excerpt: 

“A small gift from Nan,” Elizabeth said as she handed the hastily-made dressing gown to Mary. With Mrs. Washington’s assistance, Elizabeth had assisted Mary into fresh clothes. Now, the new mother rested once more in the bed. She held the sleeping child in the bend of her arm.

“I will thank the girl properly,” Mrs. Joseph assured.

Elizabeth patted the back of the lady’s hand. “Why do you not rest?”

“You require your rest  as much as I,” Mrs. Joseph protested.

Elizabeth shook off the suggestion. “First, I believe I shall go downstairs and have a proper supper with Mr. Darcy. My back is tight.” She stretched her arms over her head. “I shall send Mr. Joseph to sit with you.”

“It is not necessary for someone to watch me sleep.” Mary’s eyelids closed, but then sprung open again. “That is unless you require private time with Mr. Darcy.’

Elizabeth smiled knowingly. “I never tire of the man’s company. Even after two years.”

“Then by all means send Mr. Joseph up. A woman of your great heart should have her every wish.” She caught Elizabeth’s hand in a tight grasp.

Elizabeth  touched the sleeping child’s hair with her fingertip. “My wish is to possess what you have, Mary,” she whispered.

“You will, Elizabeth,” Mrs. Joseph insisted. “You shall have your own special happiness…you and Mr. Darcy.” The woman paused to suck in what appeared to be a deep steadying breath. “My child’s birth…I was never afraid, because God placed the incomparable Elizabeth Darcy in my life. My prayers, those I recited before Matthew and I departed Stoke-on-Trent, were for God to send an angel to protect my child, and on the third day of our journey, I walked into this out-of-the-way inn; and there you were. My own angel!”

Elizabeth snorted. “I have been called many things, but ‘angel’ has rarely been used in the same sentence as my Christian name.”

“That is where the world remains in error, Elizabeth. They see the defenses you erect to protect yourself from those who would think to know you. They do not see your magnificent heart…your indomitable spirit…the purity of your soul.”

Elizabeth laughed self-consciously. “Do not bestow too many exemplary qualities upon my shoulders. If I am to be known as an ‘angel,’ I shall be forced to find something of merit to say of Miss Bingley.”

Mary’s eyebrow rose in curiosity. “Miss Bingley?”

Elizabeth chuckled. “My sister Jane is married to Mr. Charles Bingley. Miss Bingley is the youngest of the gentleman’s sisters. Before Jane and Bingley were married, Miss Bingley did my poor, sweet Jane a major disservice, and the lady once had her sights set on Mr. Darcy. I am often at my wit’s end when I am called upon to be civil to the woman.”

“Angels may feel jealousy, Elizabeth.” Mary squeezed the back of Elizabeth’s hand in companionship.

“So, you believe there are ‘shades’ of angelic behavior?” Her voice rose in bemusement.

Mary smiled, a twist of her lips turning upward. “Absolutely,” she declared without a telling blink of her eyes. “God’s love is pure, but mankind’s benevolence may vary.” An appreciative leap of sardonic humor flashed in Mary’s eyes. “An ‘angel’ may have moments of weakness.”

Elizabeth puzzled over the point Mary Joseph meant to make. “You believe I have God’s attention?” The woman’s rather cryptic utterances had mystified Elizabeth.

“We all possess God’s attention, and it is up to each of us to determine how best to serve Him. That being said, it is my opinion our Maker has chosen you among His favorites.”

Before she could stifle the words, Elizabeth defensively asked, “Then how could a loving God permit my children to die before I could know them? Before I could tell them of my love?” Tears trickled from her eyes to cascade down her cheeks.

Mrs. Joseph swallowed hard. “That is the question which most frightens you, is it not? You wonder how, if you serve God faithfully, He could not honor you with a child of your own. How the rest of the world can know the happiness you have been denied? How no one other than Mr. Darcy understands the depth of your fears?”

“Yes.”

“I have no answer which will satisfy your heart: God gives us what we require when we require it. My husband holds different ideas on such matters, but I believe that when the Bible says God created man in His image, the passage means God has His foibles, as well. He, for example, is a bit selfish. God wishes to surround himself with the most magical sound in the world, the sound of a child’s freely-given laugh. Therfore, sometimes He acts upon his selfishness and calls the child home early. It is the only explanation which makes any sense.”

Elizabeth brushed away her tears. “I shall endeavor to accept your explanation, Mary. It will serve me as well as any other.”

“You cannot argue with a woman named ‘Mary’ on the occasion of the anniversary of the Lord’s birth,” the woman teasingly reasoned.

“No. I suppose, I cannot.”

Thank you for joining my party; now, have a look at equally enjoyable entertainments…

1. Helen Hollick: “You are Cordially Invited to a Ball” (plus a giveaway prize) 
http://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/you-are-invited-to-party_17.html

2. Andrea Zuvich: “No Christmas For You! The Holiday Under Cromwell”  http://www.andreazuvich.com/history/no-christmas-for-you-the-holiday-under-cromwell

3. Debbie Young:  “Good Christmas Housekeeping” + a Giveaway of a Virtual Party Bag Giveaway  http://authordebbieyoung.com/2014/12/20/christmas/

4. Lauren Johnson:  ‘”Farewell Advent, Christmas is come” – Early Tudor Festive Feasts’  http://laurenjohnson1.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/farewell-advent-christmas-is-come-early-tudor-festive-feasting-christmas-party-blog-hop/

5. Ann Swinfen: Christmas 1586 – Burbage’s Company of Players Celebrate  http://annswinfen.com/2014/12/christmas-party/

 6. Richard Abbott: The Hunt – Feasting at Ugarit
http://richardabbott.authorsxpress.com/2014/12/19/the-hunt-feasting-at-ugarit/

 7. Edward James: AN ACCIDENTAL VIRGIN  https://busywords.wordpress.com/an-accidental-virgin/

and 

AN UNINVITED GUEST  https://busywords.wordpress.com/the-birthday-party/

8.  Derek Birks: The Lord of Misrule – A Medieval Christmas Recipe for Trouble https://dodgingarrows.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-blog-hop-the-lord-of-misrule-a-medieval-christmas-recipe-for-trouble/

9. Jude Knight: Christmas at Avery Hall in the Year of Our Lord 1804 + Giveaway of “Candle’s Christmas Chair” (novella)  http://judeknightauthor.com/2014/12/20/christmas-at-avery-hall-in-the-year-of-our-lord-1804/

10. Nancy Bilyeau: “Christmas After the Priory”    http://nancybilyeau.blogspot.com/2014/12/blog-hop-christmas-after-priory.html

11. Fenella J. Miller:  ‘Christmas on the Home front + GIVEAWAY of “Barbara’s War.”
http://fenellamiller.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/christmas-on-home-front-and-giveaway.html

12. Clare Flynn: A German American Christmas http://www.clareflynn.co.uk/blog/a-german-american-christmas

13. Sarah Etter: Christmas Pudding — Part of the Christmas Feast!  http://saraleeetter.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-pudding-part-of-the-christmas-feast/

14. Suzanne Adair: “The British Legion Parties Down for Yule 1780” + Giveaway of “Camp Follower: A Mystery of the American Revolution.” http://www.suzanneadair.net/2014/12/19/the-british-legion-parties-down-for-yule-1780/

15. J L Oakley: Christmas Time in the Mountains 1907 + Giveaway of an audioboook of “Tree Soldier” (US and UK)
https://historyweaver.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-time-in-the-mountains-1907/

16. Anna Belfrage:  All I want for Christmas + Giveaway  https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/all-i-want-for-christmas-the-christmas-party-blog-hop/

17. Carol Cooper: How To Be A Party Animal  http://pillsandpillowtalk.com/2014/12/19/how-to-be-a-party-animal/

18. Julian Stockwin: Join the Party   http://tinyurl.com/n8xk946  

19. Juliet Greenwood: Christmas 1914 on the Home Front (plus a giveaway)   http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-1914-on-the-home-front/

20. Lucienne Boyce:  A Victory Celebration   http://tinyurl.com/ovl4sus

21. Nicola Moxey: The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182  http://nickymoxey.com/2014/12/19/the-feast-of-the-epiphany-1182/

22. Peter St John:  Dummy’s Birthday   http://jennospot.blogspot.fr/2014/12/dummys-party.html

23. Stephen Oram : Living in your dystopia: you need a festival of enhancement… (plus a giveaway prize)  http://stephenoram.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/living-in-your-dystopia-13-you-need-a-festival-of-enhancement/

24.  Alison Morton: “Saturnalia surprise – a winter party tale” + Giveaway of “Perfiditas” – http://alison-morton.com/2014/12/20/saturnalia-surprise-a-winter-party-tale-and-giveaway/

25. Lindsay Downs : O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree + Giveaway 
http://lindsaydowns-romanceauthor.weebly.com/lindsay-downs-romance-author/o-christmas-tree-o-christmas-tree

26. A Bonus Post from Ann Swinfen: The Real Richard (Dick) Whittington               http://the-history-girls.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/turn-again-whittington-by-ann-swinfen.html

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in book excerpts, British history, Great Britain, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Regency era and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Celebrating a Regency Era Christmas on the Christmas Party Blog Hop + a Giveaway of “Christmas at Pemberley”

  1. This book is wonderful! I only have an ebook version, so I would love to win a copy of the autographed book! Love your writing. Looking forward to your next book 🙂

    • Happy Holidays! Brittany, I am pleased you joined us today. As you may (or may not know), “The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy” follow “Christmas at Pemberley.” It is a cozy mystery after Fitzwilliam returns from The Battle of Waterloo. My next Austen book (coming in early 2015) will be another cozy, which starts after Fitzwilliam and Georgiana are married. It will be called “The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin.” The story lines follow through these three books. I also have a “Darcy” novella, entitled “Mr. Darcy’s Fault,” which will release soon.

  2. Suzi Love says:

    I’d love to win a copy of the book because as you know, I love the Regency Era.

  3. I like the sound of both your books, and interesting to tie it in more with the international events going on. It’s always interesting to me that Jane Austen was clearly switched on to the wider world beyond the English shires, but rarely refers to it in her own writing. Thanks, Regina!

    • Austen lives on. My love of Austen brought me to the publishing world, but I write other pieces, as well. However, I will admit to being fully invested in the Regency Period.
      I appreciate your comments and your visit today. Happy Holidays!

  4. Thank you, Regina, for an instructive visit to the Christmas of former times. My yule log is ready and a pile of chestnuts set by for roasting. Wishing you a warm and enjoyable Christmas.

  5. CJelbart says:

    Interesting the way. I keep on being taken back to. Pemberley. More books to chase. They will be fun.

  6. moxeyns says:

    A lovely excerpt – and again I learn something; I really like the idea of saving kindling from the previous Yule log to light this year’s with!

  7. A really interesting article, which makes Regency Christmases sound quite appealing – a lot more dignified than Christmas sometimes seems these days…

  8. Jo Barton says:

    I’d love to have spent Christmas at Pemberley – Happy Christmas 🙂

  9. Thank you for the clear delineation of customs from different eras. The boundaries of Regency Christmas get blurry. I think I need to try making christmas pudding.

    • Thank you for joining us, Caroline. I wrote a piece recently where I spoke of Jane Austen’s Anglican beliefs accounting for her not mentioning birthdays in her works. Perhaps it is the same for the lack of references to “Christmas.”
      This is the first year in many that I did not make the pudding on Stir Up Sunday.

  10. Pingback: Christmas 1914 on the Home Front | Juliet Greenwood

  11. It’s nice to see you discuss the more austere Christmas that folks in Regency England had. Prince Albert introduced us to some of the bling we now see in modern Christmas.

  12. historyweaver says:

    Would love to be at Pemberly. I enjoyed reading about Christmas during this time period. I didn’t know about helebores being part of the decorations. I love helebores. They grow so well in the Pacific NW. I have about 6 different colors coming up.

  13. Oh my gosh! I love this! I MUST buy it! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Regina!

    • Thank you for the kind words, Andrea. The book was a finalist for the Booksellers’ Best Award in 2012, as well as taking second in general fiction at the New England Book Festival. It remains one of my favorites to write. Happy Holidays!

  14. judeknight1807 says:

    A very touching piece. Two people very close to me lost several babies before birth, and you beautifully capture the pain. Thank you. And I enjoyed your description of the Regency vs Victorian customs.

  15. Dawn says:

    What fun…

  16. Tresha says:

    A new book to add to my TBR list thanks for the giveaway!

  17. Beautiful excerpt! Wishing you the happiest of seasons.

  18. I can recall giving the Christmas pud a stir as a boy. One of the 3 or 4 things my mother could cook properly. I can’t remember whether or not our wish was for the pudding to turn out well probably was :mrgreen: 😛

  19. Damn, I left out an ‘n’ this time; sorry Regina 😉

  20. Denise Duvall says:

    A great melange of a Regency Christmas and the original Christmas story, Darcy and Elizabeth stranded at an inn, attending the birth of a child. Thank you for the giveaway.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    • Thanks for joining me, Denise. There is much more to the story of “Christmas at Pemberley” than the birth of a child, but it seemed an appropriate plot line. There is even a bit of espionage against Princess Charlotte. Happy Holidays!

  21. annswinfen says:

    Really pleased to see you making a firm distinction between Christmas during the early 19th century and during the Victorian period. Small point: it was in the 17th century, during the Cromwellian Protectorate, that Christmas celebrations were banned. In the 16th the time from Christmas to Twelfth Night was a period of extended celebration. One of my favourite Austen moments occurs in Emma, when Emma has to share a carriage with a slightly drunk Mr Elton who proposes to her. They are both trapped as the carriage trundles slowly through the snow. One of the most embarrassing scenes in literature!

    • Thanks for the good eye in catching the typo, Ann. When my 67 year-old-mind thinks 1600s, it does not always flip to that being the 17th Century. My fault for not proofreading more carefully.
      I agree with your evaluation of the proposal scene in Emma, but the one between Mr. Collins and Elizabeth Bennet remains my favorite.

  22. bn100 says:

    Nice excerpt

  23. Regina I came across this post today I dont know if you’ve seen it already I know you’re a contributor to this website, but it ties in with a great deal of what you have been writing about, including of course the ‘yule’ log which I’d never heard of before

    http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com.au/2014/12/a-colonial-christmas-feast-and-customs.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/wTZYl+(English+Historical+Fiction+Authors)

    • I think you will enjoy English Historical Fiction Authors, Brian. The posts all deal with the history of the British Isles. You might also look for a Castles, Customs, and Kings. It is a collection of non-fiction essays from the group. The second edition will be out soon. As to the yule log, I discover something new in the “traditions” every year.

      • I’ve been a follower of the EHFA site for yonks Regina, always find it an interesting site to visit, I haven’t been to the other one you mention but I shall certainly look it up and in all probability add that too to my ‘watch/follow’ list. There are some amazing places to see and visit on the WWW just insufficient time in the day to follow them all and do what ever must be done.

        I was about to write an email to you a few days ago but not having an address had to forego the matter, it was in reference to something particularly English that only we English (not British) seem to follow through all classes from the highest to the lowest; I know for sure that even the Australians do not understand this, and they ( I’d normally use we) are closest to the English of any other members of the Commonwealth, (although this is slowly but enevitably disappearing).

      • I sent you an email from my website’s “contact” page. http://www.rjeffers.com
        It is on your hotmail account.

  24. Having a great time re-visiting all the articles on the Blog Hop – thank you for taking part and have a Happy New Tear!

  25. Thanks for the post Regina, describing both an interesting episode and some personal challenges that Elizabeth is facing. Much appreciated

  26. Debbie Young says:

    I much prefer the Regency tradition of kicking off Christmas on Christmas Day and lasting the traditional 12 days, compared with the modern practice of it seeming to start some time in November!

    • I agree completely, Debbie. In their commercialism, the holidays blend together. I saw Christmas decorations on display before the Halloween costumes were even off the shelves. It is ridiculous!

    • I went out two days after Christmas and the stores were putting out Valentine cards/candy. It is one bit of commercialism after another. I find it exhausting.

  27. Pingback: New Year’s BLOG GIVEAWAY: INTERNATIONAL (OPEN) | Fashion Bloggers And Style

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