Thursday, December 20, 2012

Special Guest Kay Springsteen + Giveaway!

Hi everyone, and welcome to Thursday's installment of the Christmas blog party. For a complete list of the posts and current giveaways up for grabs, please visit here.

I'm thrilled to have Kay Springsteen as our special guest today as she gives a glimpse into what a Regency Christmas would look like. And as a special treat, she's also offering a digital copy of The Toymaker to one lucky reader who leaves a comment about a holiday tradition and/or retweets/cross posts this post to Twitter, FB, etc. Good luck!

Regency Christmas Celebration
Kay Springsteen

You’re invited to a Celebration of Christmas!
The time:  December, 1812
The place:  Hampstead, England

Step back into the Regency Period in England with me for a bit. Christmas was not celebrated then with all the splendor and pageantry we put into it in current times. Santa Claus, as we know him, did not exist in 1812 – the current depiction of Santa comes from Clement Moore’s poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas, written in 1823. A few scattered references to a Christmas time gift giver can be found throughout various historical cultures, each with their own spin on the traditions. In fact, during Jane Austen’s time, most folks didn’t even know what a Christmas tree even was, let alone have one. The first known Christmas tree in England was erected by Queen Charlotte, the German born wife of George III, for a children’s party she held on Christmas Day in 1800. However, most families regarded this custom as unusual and it didn’t catch on until the mid-1800s.

Christmas was more highly celebrated in the country homes than in the larger cities. The rituals followed by English folks in Regency times (1811-1820) involved decorations with greens – cedar garland, yew branches, holly, mistletoe. A kissing bough usually consisted of these greens along with the mistletoe, and yes, these were placed in prominent places for kissing under the mistletoe. The Yule log was a large and very dense log (originally an entire tree) that would burn sometimes for days. It was lit on Christmas Eve using a piece of char left over from the previous year’s Yule log. Decorations were not put up until Christmas Eve, and they were taken down during Epiphany, on January 6. Activities for Christmas Eve might be parlor games, story telling, or just sitting in quiet conversation. Traditions involving singing carols did not evolve until later in the 1800s, in the Victorian Era.

Christmas Day would likely involve a trip to church in the morning, and a traditional dinner of pig’s head or possibly turkey (brought from the Americas in the 1500s) and treats such as plum pudding. Christmas Day was a time when the land owners would receive gifts from tenants. However, gift giving among family members was usually contained to giving the children a new toy. Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, was the day servants and tradesfolk received gifts from their superiors or employers. These came to be referred to as the “Christmas boxes,” and the name of the day was derived from that.

In The Toymaker, I tried to show some of the Christmas traditions prevalent at the time, while also drawing on the tiniest hints from the Father Christmas legend. It’s a story of fitting in, true love, and mistaken identity. And of course, it has a happy ending.

The Toymaker, by Kay Springsteen

He was a duke who wanted to be a toymaker. She fell in love with a toymaker but her parents wanted her to marry a duke.

Lady Ivy Plumthorne, elder daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Wythorpe, is a worry to her parents. Desiring only that she be as happily wed as her younger sister, they've spent the past year parading prospective suitors in front of her. When she finds none of the suitors... suitable, her parents despair she will ever find the perfect husband. With Christmas approaching, they find one more prospective suitor, the Duke of Greenbriar. Only problem is, Ivy's already met the man of her dreams... and he's a toymaker.

Noel Phillip Vincent Greenstone, the Twelfth Duke of Greenbriar, wasn't cut out to be a duke. He preferred crafting toys that made children happy. So that's just what he did. And as Phillip Green, he traveled freely about, visiting shops and orphanages, and making certain no child went without a toy of his or her own. But after a few chance meetings with Lady Ivy, he knows he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. The problem is, she needs to marry a nobleman and she only knows him as Phillip the Toymaker. He needs a plan, and fast. The world needs to meet the reclusive Duke of Greenbriar, so Phillip plans his own coming out. But how will Ivy react when she learns the truth?

Full length novel available for 99 cents at these and other fine E-book sites:



bn100 said...

Nice post.We always have turkey for Christmas.


Bea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bea said...

*waves* Hi Boss lady, Hi Jodi!

I knew Christmas trees were relatively recent as traditions went but I didn't realize they were that new. Heh, is there anything you don't know Kay? :D

Merry Christmas!

elaing8 said...

The Toymaker sounds good.
A holiday tradition is the kids in our family have always opened a gift on Christmas Eve.

Beckey said...

Thanks for sharing about the book, seems like it'll be a great read
and the information :)

Happy Holidays

Joanne said...

Thanks for that great post. I don't think I could eat pig's head. Every Christmas we have ham and homemade scalloped potatoes. Yum!
The Toymaker sounds fantastic.


Anonymous said...

I love eating homemade tamales friends bring on Christmas Eve before opening presents...


flchen1 said...

What a cute premise, Kay! Will definitely have to look out for this! As for holiday traditions? We keep them simple--we read the Christmas story together on Christmas morning, enjoy breakfast together, and then open any gifts :)

f dot chen at comcast dot net

bas1chs said...

Thanks for giving us a glimpse at the Regency period!
bas1chsemail at gmail dot com

Booksrforever123 said...

really sweet story
j-coverholser at sbcglobal dot net

laura troxel said...

Thanks for sharing the book. We always go to Christmas Eve mass.