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It’s Christmas—practically. If you stroll in to any Michaels or Hobby Lobby or even swing by a Hallmark store, you can’t help but miss that the Christmas decorations are out in full bloom. Wrapping. Bows. Lit Christmas trees. Christmas music playing in the background.
What’s up with all this Christmas craziness? Personally, I blame Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens. Believe it or not, before the Victorian era, the holidays really weren’t much of a wingding. Here are some traditions that you might still be enjoying all thanks to merry ole England. . .
A Lighted Christmas Tree
While Christmas trees had been around as a German tradition since the 17th century, it was Prince Albert, the German husband of Queen Victoria, who introduced the custom to the royal family. And if a tree was gracing Windsor Castle, you better believe all of England wanted in on the rage. Live trees were decorated with tinsel, paper chains, ribbon, and lighted candles. Quite the fire hazard!
Sending Christmas Cards
Holiday greetings have always been exchanged, but the first formal Christmas card was published in London in 1843. Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a card for his friends . . . and the tradition took off from there.
Reading A Christmas Carol
Before 1843, if you called someone a Scrooge, no one would know what you meant. That all changed when Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol—and it was an immediate success. Nowadays, no one wants to be known as a Scrooge.
Christmas Dinner with the Family
While you may be serving ham for family dinner, the preferred meat of the day in London for Christmas dinner was goose. Plum pudding was a big hit as well but the name is a misnomer. There were no actual plums used in this dish. The word plums was a term for raisins. And you couldn’t wait until the day before Christmas to whip this bad boy up. It is usually aged a month or more—or sometimes even up to a year.
Wish you could escape to a simper time with candlelit trees and a backdrop of singing carolers? Grab a cup of tea and settle yourself down with a copy of my latest release, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.
When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.
Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.
Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they've been striving for isn't what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
Buy 12 Days at Bleakly Manor on Amazon
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at her website or blog or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.