Monday, December 14, 2015

How Would Jane Austen Celebrate Christmas?

post by Michelle Griep
Moi with author JULIE KLASSEN.
What do historical author nerds do for Christmas entertainment? Go to a Jane Austen luncheon, of course, complete with books, Regency gowns, plenty of food, and of course a Jane Austen silhouette cake for dessert. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. But it wasn't just all calories and book buying. I learned a ton of stuff about Regency Christmas traditions, and you're in luck because I'll save you the trouble of an expanding waist band or shrinking wallet by sharing the info . . .

CHRISTMAS CAROLING

Caroling wasn't the sweet Go-Tell-It-On-The-Mountain harmonious event. It usually ended in a riot. Singers would gather near a church or town square. So would peddlers, who sold sheet music so everyone could join in singing. That's not all they sold, though. We're talking booze here, folks. And excessive drinking leads to excessive brawling. Sure, not every caroler was out for a sailor-of-a-good time. There were those who went door to door, but only to homes with a candle in the window. Otherwise you'd get the boot.
It was carrot cake, BTW.

HOUSE GUESTS

Entertaining back in this era wasn't just a party and then goodbye guests. Nope. Friends and family usually stayed at your house at the very least for the entire twelve days of Christmas, but most often started partying way back on Dec. 6th. It was difficult to travel in the Regency period, so when you made the effort to go somewhere, you stayed a long time.

CHRISTMAS DINNER

Goose was the meat of choice, but not many had an oven large enough to roast one because those puppies--or fowl--are big. So orders were put in at the baker who would "cook your goose."
I didn't wear a Regency gown but I did
clean up nice.

DECORATIONS

Don't worry if you don't have your house decorated yet. Regency folks didn't put up their greenery until December 24th . . . and it was greenery. They brought the outside inside, and they didn't overdo it, either. Just a mantle piece or table decor, and maybe some on the front posts of the house or possibly the bannister. Big, fancy decor didn't start coming in until the Victorian era.

12th NIGHT

This was the big celebration, bigger than Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. If gifts were given, this was the day to pass them out. This was also the night all your decorations would be taken down and burned, because if you didn't, a goblin might get you.

This year I'm not even remotely ready for Christmas but I'm not sweating it too much. It's not like I've got a houseful of guests staying for nearly two weeks.

3 comments:

chappydebbie said...

Very interesting. I think I will stick to my own traditions. Goblins? Really?
I didn't go overboard decorating this year. I have been known to really overdo it in years past.

Ane Mulligan said...

You didn't get my note saying I was coming for the entire fortnight?

Gail Helgeson said...

Looks like so much fun. St Paul Hotel? Right up my alley...tea and Jane Austen. Great post. Happy Christmas.

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