Times, they are a changing… or are they?
Ah, Christmas what a marvelous time of year. A holiday of fun, frolic and food, nothing like that in the olden days … Wait! That’s exactly what it used to be like. To what era am I referring? To the Regency Period in England, of course, an era near and dear to my heart.
Two hundred years ago, England celebrated the season much as we (Canadians) do now. Granted, there was no rerun of ‘The Grinch who Stole Christmas’ or fourteen thousand versions of ‘Jingle Bells’ cheering them up as they shopped, but they did flock to see the Mummers Play and travel house to house caroling. There were gifts for children. They were smaller than what we would expect now, consisted more of apples and nuts… maybe ribbons and the occasional toy. But like the 21st century, charity abounded and gaiety echoed in the streets.
Christmas Day started at church and ended in a feast. For those influenced by British traditions, the mincemeat pies, gingerbread and plum pudding sitting on the table would look very familiar. Houses were decorated with holly, ivy, evergreen boughs and the flirtatious mistletoe… though, not until December 24th.
Decorated trees were few and far between until 1848. But while not yet common in England, it was a tradition in Europe and America. These trendsetters, added tapers (small thin candles) and strung almonds along the branches of fir trees.
Those in high spirits could flirt their way through parlor games as social barriers were lowered. Rich and poor enjoyed Charades and Snapdragon. (Raisins were piled in a bowl of brandy that was then set on fire. The object was to grab and eat the raisins without setting anything on fire…including yourself.) Definitely fun and frolic there!
And then there was celebrating with friends and family. I can imagine the laughter, the non-stop talk, the silliness and the pranks. Sounds like now!
Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the Regency and the present is the timeline. The Christmas Season began December 25th and ran until January 6th—the twelve days of Christmas.
Still, no matter how they celebrated, no matter how we celebrate, it was and is a time when the word ‘peace’ is on everyone’s mind and our hopes are renewed for the future; ours and the world’s.
Happy Christmas, Everyone!
I love Cindy. I love her book, I love her online presence, and I'm pretty sure when I meet her in person I will love her even more. I learned so much after reading her post and now I want her to write a scene or even an entire book that's dedicated to the Christmas season during the Regency era. That would be ah-ma-zing!