Friday, December 28, 2007

Late Christmas Presents

I promised to tell you the answer to my teaser last week: what was wrong with the picture in my Regency Christmas post. Clever Jen recognized that the stocking hanging on the mantel is an American custom. Here are the other two issues: the Christmas tree and the present in the gentleman’s hand.

Marissa’s little queen may have had a tree in 1832, but earlier in the nineteenth century only those of German descent (which, hey, includes most of Queen Vic’s family!) put up Christmas trees. For most of England, it was an unknown custom. Likewise the giving of presents: the upper classes were more likely to give presents on Boxing Day (December 26) and only to those who had given them good service in the previous year. Boxing Day was also a traditional day to go hunting, in full regalia on horseback with your loyal hounds. (And thanks to the online Britannica Student Encyclop√¶dia for the spiffy photo.)

The other time you might give a present, and then a present of food, was New Year’s Eve. After midnight, the first person in your door was supposed to bring gifts of food for all. If this “First Footer” was male, he brought good luck to you for the year. On New Year’s Day, you feasted, and the King and Queen heard an ode by the Poet Laureate, the lead poet in all the land.

While I can’t claim to be a Poet Laureate (okay, I can’t claim to be a poet at all!), I do have some (hopefully) interesting words up on the web. My book’s webpage is now live, and I’ll have a new surprise every week. I do hope you’ll stop by.


Jenny Meyerhoff said...

Hmmm. I can see where historical accuracy makes the job of art director rather difficult. Take away those three items and it would be hard to come up with a cover that would instantly say Christmas to todays American readers, no?

Regina Scott said...

Quite true, Jenny. I'm sure that's why they used that cover. Although as the book is titled The Twelve Days of Christmas, I think they might have come up with something fun about lords a-leaping or ladies dancing. :-)

On the other hand, I'm quite glad I only write the words and don't have to come up with the art to match!