As we enter the festive holiday season, it's fascinating to take a step back in time and explore the enchanting Christmas traditions of the Regency era. The Regency period, spanning from 1811 to 1820, was a time of elegance and refinement for the upperclass in British society with many traditions that make for perfect fodder for an author like me. My novel, William Through Time, features many of these holiday traditions making it a perfect wintery read for lovers of time travel and regency romances with a fresh LGBTQ spin.
- Decking the Halls:
During the Regency era, Christmas decorations were a bit different from what we're accustomed to today. Evergreen branches, holly, and mistletoe were popular choices for adorning homes. The emphasis was on simplicity and natural elements, with decorations often handcrafted to add a personal touch to the festive atmosphere.
- Lavish Feasts:
Christmas feasting during the Regency era was a grand affair. Roast meats, particularly goose or turkey, took center stage on the Christmas table. Traditional accompaniments included plum pudding, mince pies, and a variety of seasonal fruits and nuts. Mulled wine and other warm beverages were enjoyed to ward off the winter chill.
- Parlor Games and Entertainment:
Entertainment was a key element of Regency Christmas celebrations. Parlor games were a popular pastime, with families and friends gathering to play charades, snapdragon (a game involving grabbing raisins from a dish of burning brandy), and blindman's buff. Music also played a significant role, with carolers often going door-to-door, spreading holiday cheer.
- Exchanging Gifts:
The Regency era saw the exchange of gifts, much like today. However, the gifts were often small and symbolic. Handwritten notes, homemade crafts, or small trinkets were exchanged to express affection and goodwill. It was the thought and sentiment behind the gift that held greater importance. In William Through Time, William prepares a pair of ice skates to gift to Austin Miller. A gift they both end up greatly enjoying.
- Christmas Day Church Services:
Attending church services on Christmas Day was a common tradition during the Regency era. Families would gather for a solemn and joyful celebration, often accompanied by carol singing and special musical performances. The church service was an integral part of the holiday observance, emphasizing the religious significance of Christmas.
- Twelfth Night Celebrations:
The Christmas festivities didn't end on December 25th; they continued until Twelfth Night on January 6th. Twelfth Night marked the official end of the Christmas season, and it was celebrated with additional merriment, feasting, and the removal of Christmas decorations. It was also customary to choose a "Twelfth Night King and Queen" to lead the festivities.
Reading and writing historical books requires a lot of research but it is always fascinating learning about the lives of those that lived so long ago. I think I could learn something still from their emphasis on simplicity, togetherness, and giving of small but meaningful gifts.
Would you like to read more about Regency era Christmas traditions?
Pick up a copy of William Through Time today!