Friday, December 14, 2007

It's nearly Christmas!

When I say Christmas, I mean any holiday that works for you:) Christmas is the one I'm most familiar with and the only one I can recount tales of family traditions and mishaps! Researching Christmas traditions for the Regency period can be a bit tricky because most of 'my' family traditions, and those of most people who grew up in the UK, come from the Victorian time period.

Christmas trees? A German import, probably courtesy of Prince Albert. There is, of course, a old tradition of bringing in the Yule log which gets to burn over the holiday period. That dates back to medieval times and is usually considered pagan in origin, as are quite a few of the Christmas traditions.

I think that hunting for small objects cooked into a pudding is also an old tradition that dictated who got to boss everyone around for the season and play tricks. The Victorians added the silver charms in the Christmas pudding but I'm not sure if they had any particular significance, other than you had to be careful not to a, choke or b, crack your teeth!

From my family I carried over the tradition of Christmas stockings placed on the kids beds for the morning. It's kind of a delaying tactic to slow them down with enough chocolate to wait for their big presents later after church. I remember one Christmas when I was about 8, when my father came home from the pub and took umbrage (as you do when you've had a few pints) to the suggestion that my mother was the only one who could fill the xmas stockings for the girls (his 5 daughters). He insisted on doing it himself.The next morning everyone was sobbing because, of course, he had no idea what each of us wanted and we all got the wrong things. It took my mother about an hour to sort out the mess and I realized that maybe 'you know who' wasn't quite who I thought he was.

Recently my husband asked me whether we should continue the stockings-he gets very bah-humbug as Christmas approaches, I suspect it's a money thing. The kids were horrified at the very idea of messing with their xmas and I'll still continue to do them. Mr Kate Pearce has to be kept away from the financial aspects of xmas. He has this weird idea that $50 goes a long way and I hate to destroy his old-world assumptions. We have a deal that he doesn't look at the bills in December!

Something else that's become a tradition in my family is that I always make mince pies and a particularly rich ice cream from scratch. I'm not sure how ice cream became an xmas tradition, but there you are. For my kids, it's part of Christmas, as are the mince pies which I hand out to various guests and watch their expressions as they try and work out exactly what I'm expecting them to eat!

And in case you're wondering about my dad. He never did the stockings again, but he did once bring a complete stranger home for Christmas dinner because the poor guy had no one to celebrate with. Now that more than made up for the stockings in my book :)

And don't forget, if any of you get any gift cards for bookstores-and I know you will-"Simply Sexual" my erotic Regency-set romance from Kensington Aphrodisia comes out on January 29th!

I hope you have a great holiday season!
And please comment about your own traditions, I'd love to hear about them!


Pam Rosenthal said...

I love the illustration, Kate, where does it come from?

My own family tradition is to drift lazily, happily through this pretty season -- buddhalike, no attachments.

After the typical American Jewish childhood trauma (all us little match children, our faces pressed against the glass), followed by the embarrassment of Chanukah overcompensation, finally comes the excellent reward of a blessedly serene zen end of year. Lovely. L'Chaim. Thank you all very much.

Celia May Hart said...

Pam, that sounds lovely.

The traditions I grew up with was your traditional Northern Hemisphere feast -- until Mum got wise and we started having "summer" type foods, cold ham, bbq salmon, salads, that kind of thing.

I remember sitting at the "kids table" at Nana's house until I was ... well, I don't think I ever graduated from the kid's table before I moved away. I loved the mini-meat pies, the bologna stuffed with cold potato and the rum balls.

Yeah, I was raised blue collar. And Nana gave me her rum ball recipe, but, alas, she must've fibbed on the rum amount because the first year I made them, they were chocolate balls. And you could *smell* that she'd made rum balls when you visited, so I'm having to guestimate the amount *hic*

Kate Pearce said...

I think that sounds like a great way to have a holiday, Pam!
I'm not sure about the illustration, I couldn't find one!

Celia-rum balls and bologna stuffed with cold potato? they are both new ones on me! Although the rum balls sound good. My MIL is Irish and took the pledge many years ago-but she makes a Christmas trifle that is so full of brandy it'll knock your socks off!

Kate Pearce said...

I 'meant' I'm not sure where the illustration originally came from-I found it on Google-if I could type coherently that is :)

Janet Mullany said...

Mine consists of listening to the radio broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College on Christmas Eve and weeping into whatever I'm cooking. That's about it. I think there's a tendency to open the loot on Xmas morning and then wonder what to do for the rest of the day.