CHRISTMAS IN SEPTEMBER!
(It is a pleasure to have Regina Jeffers visiting with me here at Darcyholic Diversions! And I am grateful to be back amongst the living! If you have something you would like to share here at Darcyholic Diversions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org ... Barbara Tiller Cole)
In Mr. Darcy’s Present, Darcy often bemoans the lost of the religious aspects involved with Christmas being replaced by the necessity to purchase gifts for a variety of people. One can only imagine what he might think of today’s avarice.
When most people consider a Regency Christmas, they are really envisioning a Victorian one. “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.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
Religious observances remained the foundation of English Christmases of the time. One must remember that in the 16th 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.”
The 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.
Book Blurb for Mr. Darcy’s Present: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary:
The Greatest Present He Would Ever Receive is the Gift of Her Love…
What if Mr. Darcy purchased a gift for Elizabeth Bennet to acknowledge the festive days even though he knows he will never present it to her? What if the gift is posted to the lady by his servants and without his knowledge? What if the enclosed card was meant for another and is more suggestive than a gentleman should share with an unmarried lady? Join Darcy and Elizabeth, for a holiday romp, loaded with delightful twists and turns no one expects, but one in which our favorite couple take a very different path in thwarting George Wickham and Lydia Bennet’s elopement. Can a simple book of poetry be Darcy’s means to win Elizabeth’s love? When we care more for another than ourselves, the seeds of love have an opportunity to blossom.
Words of Praise for Mr. Darcy’s Present…
Jeffers takes a familiar story and reinvigorates it with humor, warmth, and wisdom. - Roses and Lilacs Reviews
“You sent for me, Papa,” Elizabeth asked.
“Come in, child, and close the door.”
She had spent many afternoons in her father’s study discussing books and enjoying quiet companionship, but Mr. Bennet rarely summoned her to his sanctuary. “Have I done something to displease you?” she inquired in anxious tones, for a frown of disapproval marked his brow.
“In truth, Lizzy,” he said as disquiet crossed his features. “I am not certain what to make of this.” He set a wrapped package upon his desk. She wished to reach for it, but instinct told her to wait for her father’s permission. “It carries your name as the recipient.”
“Mine?” she asked in surprise.
“Yes, child.” He folded his hands upon the desk and leaned forward. “The rider who delivered it said he came from London.”
“From London?” she asked in equal astonishment. “Other than aunt and uncle, I know no one in London.” She eyed the parcel with interest. “Is it not from Uncle Gardiner?”
“I have not inquired of my brother whether he sent the parcel,” Mr. Bennet admitted. “I thought to do so, but customarily Gardiner marks his letters and packages with his initials some place on the back, not as a franking stamp, but so I know it is from him. This package holds no such markings. Moreover, as the regular post did not deliver it, there is no origination stamp to determine postage costs. In fact, I incurred no charge in receipt of the item other than a coin I presented the rider.”
Elizabeth studied the package as if it would announce its sender. “Then I am at a loss. Should we not open it to discover if there is a card within? From its shape I assume it is a book.”
“A book is a logical guess,” her father said evenly. “But I mean to wait until Christmas morning. The rider said he was told from his employer that this was a gift.”
“Who would send me a fairing?” she said in bewilderment.
“That is what I wish to know,” her father spoke in disapproving tones. “I wish you to think upon it, Elizabeth. Who do you know in London that would recognize your love of reading?”
She could think of only one man who might know something of her preference for reading, for he had assisted her in the library at Netherfield, but surely Mr. Darcy would not send her a presentation, especially after her set down following his proposal. “If it is not from Uncle Gardiner, I know of no one who would send me a present.” Her mind raced for an explanation. “Mayhap Mr. Bingley purchased a gift for Jane and sent it to my care.”
“Even though Bingley appears to be again courting Jane, I doubt he would be so forward. I could inquire of him privately in this matter, but I am hesitant to do so. In truth, I prefer that you and I open this together on Christmas morning. If it is from Gardiner or Bingley or among those we share as a family, the sender will certainly ask of the fairing if it is not acknowledged. If it is something more than your uncle’s goodwill or Bingley’s besotted nature, I do not wish your mother or sisters to know of it. I would prefer to avoid another scene such as the one we experience after your refusal of Mr. Collins.”
Her father’s words stole Elizabeth’s breath away. “You think the gift is from a gentleman? But that cannot be! I have encouraged no one to act so boldly!”
“What of Mr. Wickham?” her father countered. “It is my understanding that Wickham and several other officers are in London.”
“But Lieutenant Wickham would not think to send me a gift,” she argued. “The last time I spoke to him, Mr. Wickham was not happy with my defense of Mr. Darcy.”
“A defense of Mr. Darcy?” Her father’s eyebrow rose in curiosity. “I thought you despised the man.”
“Uncle Gardiner spoke of a recent accident involving Mr. Darcy,” she explained. “Mr. Gardiner also chastised me for my flippant remarks regarding the Derbyshire gentleman. He was quite displeased that Aunt and Mr. Wickham participated in gossip.”
“Did you not also gossip?” her father asked skeptically.
“I only listened,” she confessed. “But to prove his point, Uncle Gardiner insisted that I pronounce the ‘good’ I knew of Mr. Darcy.”
Mr. Bennet smiled knowingly. “This news pleases me. Although I, too, found some of Mr. Darcy’s manners strictly reserved, I am aware a man of his consequence in Society often disguises his true self behind a stiff mantle. Moreover, I have noted of late that you appeared too quick to renounce the man and to align yourself with Mr. Wickham. It made me think that perhaps Mr. Darcy had snubbed you with more than his remark at the Meryton assembly.”
Elizabeth dropped her eyes in regret. “I thought my opinions superior, but, I am no longer certain.”
“I am glad of it. As you are the most intelligent of my daughters, it would grieve me to find you giggling after the officers. And as to Mr. Wickham, I cannot say it would bring me joy to have you become the wife of a man who held no other options than to become a member of the highly underpaid militia. From what I have heard, another paid Mr. Wickham to serve in his stead, which indicates that the lieutenant has no land of his own of which to speak. Moreover, you deserve a thinking man, one who would appreciate your finer qualities, not some fellow looking for a woman who will carry more than his children. Therefore, you and I will open the package together. The wait mixed with your curiosity will be your punishment for inadvertently drawing the attention of a reprobate. I will not have you marry Mr. Wickham, Lizzy. So if your heart is set in that quarter, you must think again. Despite your mother’s affinity for gentlemen in red coats, no officer of the militia will claim any of my daughters. If the gift is from a scoundrel, I will return it personally, along with a strong warning never to cross my threshold again.”
“I understand, Papa,” she said obediently.
“Speak to no one of this, child. This must remain our secret.”
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY! REGINA HAS TWO eBOOK COPIES OF “MR. DARCY’S PRESNT” TO THOSE WHO COMMENT BELOW. THE GIVEAWAY WILL END AT MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30.
Images above are:
Twelfth Night ~ via Wikipedia "Twelfth Night Merry-Making in Farmer Shakeshaft's Barn,” from Ainsworth's Mervyn Clitheroe, by Phiz
Plum Pudding: Harrington's of Vermont www.harringtonham.com