I hope everyone had a great Halloween (and didn't eat too much candy, as I did!). I can't believe it's now November, and Christmas is right around the corner. I'm already getting into the holiday mood, since I actually have a Christmas-themed release out this month, the anthology Regency Christmas Proposals!
I had so much fun working on the Diamonds of Welbourne Manor anthology with Diane and our friend Deb Marlowe that I loved getting to re-visit the characters for this story. I had never really intended for Mary Bassington to have her own tale, but after I met her I became very curious. Why was she so sad? What was going on between her and Dominick? Snowbound and Seduced was my chance to find out and give them their very own holiday HEA (and also catch up with some of the Welbourne crowd!).
I also love snowbound stories, am totally addicted to them, so it was easy to devise a plot for Mary and Dominick that would get them together again and make them talk to each other finally (among other activities...). They have to join forces to set out in nasty winter weather in order to track down her naughty younger sister--who has eloped with Dominick's cousin! On the way they find out the truth about the past, and discover that their love has never died. And they have a lovely, holly-berry Christmas too! (Regency Christmas Proposals also includes stories by Carole Mortimer and Gayle Wilson, so it's a great holiday treat!
Many of the traditions we consider "Christmas" actually began in the Victorian period (Regency Christmases, much like Regency weddings, were generally quieter, family affairs). People had always sent greetings and letters at Christmas-time, but our own practice of sending colorful, printed Christmas cards started in the 1840s (with their popularity booming with the advent of the penny post, which made it cheaper and easier to send cards!). It's said that a man named Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott to design a card for him and had 1000 printed up to send. The first company to make them on a massive scale was Charles Goodall & Sons of London in 1862.
Two London-based sweetmakers claimed the invention of the Christmas cracker (which appeared in "The Illustrated London News" in 1847). Based on a French bon-bon (a sweet in a twist of colored paper) the cracker adds paper hats and small trinkets as well as the loud "crack" when it's pulled apart. The Christmas tree was said to have come to England with Prince Albert (after his first child, Princess Vicky, was born, he wrote to his brother how much he looked forward to the next Christmas when "little daughter" could gambol around the tree!), and was added to the traditional decorations of holly and evergreen tied with bows. Our image of Santa Claus (Father Christmas) really took shape in this period, too.
What are YOUR favorite Christmas traditions? Do you like reading holiday stories?
(And I am giving away a signed copy of Regency Christmas Proposals on my own blog later today! Visit me at http://amandamccabe.blogspot.com for a chance to win)