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Archive for December, 2018

Regency Trivia – Christmas

This will be the last Regency Trivia post of the year.

The sad news is that Christmas as we know it didn’t come around until the Victorian era. In London it was celebrated hardly at all. It was a bigger celebration in the country, but not with all families. Cromwell did a pretty good job of stamping it out for a long time. Still, there had to be some families that resurrected old Christmas traditions and made a hardy time of it.

For those who did celebrate, what did they do? There was decorating with greenery and mistletoe. That was usually done on Christmas Eve day. Some had Yule logs. Hug logs that would burn for months. Presents were exchanged, but not always on Christmas Day. They could be given during the whole twelve days. Carolers were not a thing yet. Although, there is some evidence that there were traveling minstrels who would sing old carols such as I Saw Three Ships. Most English Christmas carols date to the Victorian time. However, some, such as Silent Night that was written in 1818 in Austria near where I ski, were translated into English.

Now, baking was important. Christmas pudding was begun weeks ahead of time and it was considered good luck to stir the pudding. Goose was the traditional Christmas dinner, and there was usually wassail bowl on New Years Eve and Twelfth Night. The word “wassail” comes from Anglo-Saxon meaning to your health. There are many recipes that people claim are the traditional one. The oldest recipe seems to come from Suffolk, and considering the county is on the coast, the ingredients make sense. But you will note that except for the apples and cider that was—unlike American or Canadian cider—alcoholic, the ingredients were not cheap. Oranges and lemons were imported from Spain as was the sherry, and madeira comes from Portugal. Also, sugar was expensive.

6 small apples, cored, 6 teaspoons soft brown sugar, 1 orange, 6 cloves, 200g caster sugar, 2 quarts cider, 300mls port, 1 cup sherry or Madeira, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. 1 lemon, halved.

The apples were cored and baked before being added to the rest of the mixture.

Another recipe, hailing from Yorkshire, replaced the sherry and madeira with ale. It was called Lamb’s Wool in honor of the wool industry in the area.

Christmas trees originated in Germany and eastern France. Although, the royal family had one, they did not become popular until later in the century.

Boxing Day, a staple of Christmas in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland began around 1830.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday, I wish you a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

Christmas party

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There is a little known fact about Scottish marriages during the Regency. If a couple had a child(ren) before they married, marriage in Scotland would make the previously illegitimate children legitimate.

 

BabiesGretna Green 3

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Here are the words used for underwear during the Regency: Underclothing, under, underdress, and linen were all general terms used for what one wore close to one’s body.
 
Until the 1830s when waistlines began to drop to approximate the natural waist, petticoats were long and as depicted in the third picture. A chemise (also called a shift) could be either long or short. It was worn next to the body under the stays.
 
Unmentionables were actually breeches or trousers. interestingly, a man’s shirt was also considered underwear. It was considered scandalous for a man to not wear something over his shirt. Shirts did not open to the waist, but had either buttons or laces that went part way down. Men could opt to wear drawers (shown below) or merely tuck their shirts under crotch.
 
shiftchemise and stayspetticoat
men's drawersshirt
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