She’s an avenging angel…who tempts him like the devil…
If Miss Laura Hopkins desired a husband, her beauty, brains, and fortune would make it easy to acquire one. Instead, Laura prefers to put her charms to another purpose entirely. Using the alias Lady Sterling, Laura helps young women who have been mistreated or compromised by their employers. Some might see it as theft and blackmail. For Laura, it is a small measure of justice. But while in pursuit of her latest target, Laura is unexpectedly aided by a gentleman who announces that he is Lord Sterling.
As a spy for the Crown, Captain Jeremy Addison, Viscount Sterling, has been assigned all manner of dangerous missions, though none as complicated as investigating the beguiling Lady Sterling. Forced to pose as newlyweds at the home of a disreputable earl, Laura and Jeremy forge an unexpected alliance…and a passionate connection. But can such a dangerous masquerade possibly lead to a real, lasting love?
Christmastide and Twelfth Night in Regency England
by Susanna Craig
Since I write historical romance, I’m always interested in learning more about how (or whether) people of the past celebrated important days and events. In Regency England, the Christmas season lasted from St. Nicholas’s Day (December 6) through Twelfth Night (January 5 or 6, depending on the reckoning), a period marked by family gatherings, parties, gift giving, good food, and of course religious observances.
On Christmas Eve, evergreens were brought into the houses of rich and poor alike. A massive Yule Log, often large enough to last through the remainder of Christmastide, was lit. Kissing Boughs, made of holly, ivy, and mistletoe were hung—though more conservative households might omit the mistletoe. Check out the pictures of the Kissing Bough I made with local greenery (sadly, no mistletoe), crafted by poking the stems into a lemon (you can also use an apple or small orange).
For many in Regency England, Christmas Day included church services and a lavish dinner, topped off with plum pudding. On the day after Christmas, St. Stephen’s Day, charitable giving was the focus. Employers gave their servants boxes of food, money, and other items, which led to the designation “Boxing Day.”
But what of Twelfth Night, the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas? Some marked the occasion with a party of family and friends. Parlor games such as Blind Man’s Bluff, Charades (which involved solving rhyming riddles), and Snapdragon (in which participants snatched raisins from a bowl of flaming brandy, hopefully without getting burned) were perennial favorites throughout the Christmas season.
Wassailing is another Twelfth Night tradition, coming down from Anglo-Saxon times and evolving into our modern practice of caroling. Groups of revelers traveled from house to house, singing and spreading cheer and blessings. As you can hear in the lyrics to songs such as “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” their efforts were to be rewarded by the local landowners with food, drink (the traditional “wassail bowl” of punch or mulled wine), and even money.
Another version of wassailing involved blessing the fruit trees and is also still practiced in some places. Farmers and villagers walked from orchard to orchard in a noisy parade led by the Wassail King and Queen, singing and banging pots and pans to rouse the tree spirits and drive away evil in hopes of a prosperous harvest.
Finally, readers of historical romance have surely encountered one particularly romantic form of Twelfth Night revelry: a masquerade ball, a final night of celebration and freedom, with dancing, flirting, and a few more stolen kisses beneath the Kissing Bough.
But all good things must come to an end. Christmas decorations traditionally came down at Epiphany, and the greenery was burned to ensure good luck in the New Year. How will you be marking the end of the Christmas season? Personally, I’ll be curling up with some new books and a cup of cocoa (although going into the woods and yelling at trees does sound tempting…) I’m also thinking of leaving the twinkle lights up, to brighten the dark winter nights.
Tell me about your unique holiday traditions, and one lucky commenter will get their choice of gift: a signed print copy of One Thing Leads to a Lover (US shipping only) or an ebook copy and a $10 Amazon gift card (open internationally).
Winner will be chosen from comments posted by 11:00 PM (EST), January 6.
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited
We really do not have any unique holiday traditions.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by!Delete
On New Year's Eve we have fondue!ReplyDelete
I love fondue. And it's been years since I've had it!Delete
That sounds delicious, Jasmine! Thanks for stopping by.Delete
Many, many years ago I started a tradition of a tree trimming party. It started with a lonely uncle and has grown along with our family. My oldest daughter with a larger house has now taken over the reins and I couldn't be happier. Fun, friends, food and family and the tree gets trimmed. (I always said it would be fun to have one taking down the tree because that is never any fun lol).ReplyDelete
I love this tradition.Delete
Sounds like so much fun! And I like the idea of a tree taking down party too--that's always such a grim day for me (which is why I'm still putting it off!) Thanks for stopping by.Delete
I don't know how unique it is but we always do a big dinner and the big famly get together on Christmas Eve at my in-laws. (Although the last 2 years we had a big dinner just us, the adult kids, and our daughter's partner. We'll see what happens in '22.) Chistmas day we are more relaxed. My in-laws come over for what is now called a charcuterie table - but not as pretty as the ones you see online. ;-)ReplyDelete
Growing up, my mom's side of the family (aunts, uncles, cousins) would all gather at my grandparents' house for a potluck dinner and gift exchange the Saturday night before Christmas. It's one of my fondest memories.Delete
That was the tradition in my husband's family too--lots of great memories! Thanks for stopping by.Delete
The only slightly unique tradition is that we have our main Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve. My mother was Swedish, and that is when they celebrate Christmas. I grew up with our family gift exchange on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day was for Santa and other relatives.ReplyDelete
My niece and her family live overseas. This year, my great-niece and great-nephew opened family Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve (on a family group FaceTime call) and Santa gifts Christmas morning. I hope it becomes an annual tradition.Delete
I think it's lovely to spread the cheer over several days! Thanks for stopping by.Delete
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, we sing carols on Christmas Eve. St. Basil brings gifts on New Year's Day, and we bake a "vasilopita" (Greek New Year's bread). Whoever gets the piece with the coin inside has good luck all year.ReplyDelete
I love learning about various traditions. Yours sound lovely.Delete
Wow, that's so interesting! Thanks for stopping by.Delete
Here in Wisconsin we keep the Christmas decorations up until the Packers season ends, hopefully with the Lombardi trophy in hand!ReplyDelete
They'd be coming down pretty early here in Carolina! LOL!Delete
I grew up in Detroit Lions country--we'd never get them up!!Delete
We don't have any unusual traditions, but we do enjoy making our own tamales that are consumed with gusto as appetizers. We also serve chile con queso and chips, for a nod to our years living in El Paso, where we raised our family.ReplyDelete
I could definitely get on board with that tradition, Nikki!Delete
Sounds delicious! Thanks for stopping by.Delete
My husband is Danish and they introduced me to the tradition of using live candles in special holders for the Christmas tree. It is beautiful and the trick is that there is deep spacing between each layer of branches and the candles in their holders are placed where they will not be directly above anything that will burn.ReplyDelete
That sounds beautiful, Lil even though I'd probably be afraid to do it.Delete
I love looking at pictures of trees with real candles, but like PJ, I would be chicken to try it myself! Thanks for stopping by, Lil.Delete
I love to drive around looking at Christmas lights.ReplyDelete
That's one of my favorite traditions too.Delete
Same here! Our neighborhood always puts on quite a show, so we don't have to go far. Thanks for stopping by, Charlotte.Delete
We don’t have any particularly special traditions, but we do a big mix of appetizers and desserts rather than a formal meal. It works better for everyone’s schedules and then everyone can contribute somethingReplyDelete
I think that sounds like a great idea!Delete
Makes it even more of a party! Thanks for stopping by, Ina.Delete
Since I was a little girl, my family chooses a country and tries to make a typical Christmas dinner. Most of the time, we can, but sometimes have to make other foods. We've had many favorites such as England, Scotland, Denmark, Israel, Russia, Wales, and just this past Christmas ended up being a good one; it was Lithuania. We have probably been doing this for nearly 40 to 45 years.ReplyDelete
What a wonderful way to learn about other cultures, Deb. I love it!Delete
That is a fabulous idea! Thanks for sharing it!Delete
I don't know how unique it is, but when our children were young, we would put small, wrapped gifts in their stockings along with the goodies. They knew they could get their stocking down and open those gifts when they got up without waiting for us all to be up. Since I usually didn't wrap gifts until Christmas Eve and was up way past midnight, this allowed me to get a bit more sleep. At some point we started celebrating Epiphany. It was likely because my husband who was in the Air Force was not home for Christmas and got home for Epiphany. Now we celebrate Christmas and celebrate again on Epiphany. I save a gift or two for everyone to give them that day. This year since we were with our oldest daughter and her family on the NC coast for Christmas, we will celebrate with our son and daughter & family on Epiphany.ReplyDelete
I love to hear about how families celebrate around their circumstances. I grew up on a dairy farm, so my dad was always out milking the cows when I woke up. Thankfully Santa always brought something to keep me occupied until later in the morning! :)Delete
I love that you also celebrate Epiphany. I'm all for extending the holiday joy.ReplyDelete
We create dishes from out ancestors which are tasty and yummy. We also love storytelling.ReplyDelete
Each person brings a dish made with love. Usually one passed down from generations which is unique and a favorite. Then we have a quiz which is the most fun of all.ReplyDelete
There isn't a specific tradition, but when I was small, we'd leave the Christmas tree up until the Epiphany.ReplyDelete
Our unique holiday tradition would be watching a 1930's version of Dicken's A Christmas Carol on Christmas eve.ReplyDelete
I don't think we have anything unique--baking cookies, candlelight service, holiday movies, cookies for Santa, opening gifts on Christmas morning.ReplyDelete
When my family was young, we had a summer picnic for Christmas dinner. Potato Salad, Ham, Fruit Salad etc. We all enjoyed the idea of summer food rather than what was normal for winter.ReplyDelete
Now, I have spread my Christmas to children and grandchildren. Decorations and keep- sakes have all been shared among interested family members....and it is nice to see the treasures being cared for by people I love. One granddaughter has an angel that was our topper when her mother was a wee girl. It does not look lovely as it once did, but it is a well loved angel.
Now I have to figure out who will want my collection of Santa mugs and my collection of snow globes. Eventually, all these treasures will find good homes. At least I hope so.
Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.