As today, Christmas was celebrated with family and friends. Mulled wine was served.
The Christmas meal would be either a roast goose, duck, pheasant, turkey, or roast beef roast and vegetables.
Christmas plum pudding, trifle, syllabub and mince pies followed by shortbread, sweetmeats, sugar plums, and march pane.
It was back in 1800, more than a decade before the Regency began, that I found the earliest reference to a yew tree being used in Christmas celebrations. The Christmas custom of taking a tree inside your house and decorating it was well-established throughout the German states, and Queen Charlotte, who came from the German duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, introduced this tradition to England.
John Watkins describes the royal family Christmas celebrations of 1800 in his biography of Queen Charlotte:
“At the beginning of October the royal family left the coast for Windsor, where Her Majesty kept the Christmas-day following in a very pleasing manner. Sixty poor families had a substantial dinner given them; and in the evening the children of the principal families in the neighbourhood were invited to an entertainment at the Lodge. Here, among other amusing objects for the gratification of the juvenile visitors, in the middle of the room stood an immense tub with a yew-tree placed in it, from the branches of which hung bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, and raisins, in papers, fruits, and toys, most tastefully arranged, and the whole illuminated by small wax candles. After the company had walked round and admired the tree, each child obtained a portion of the sweets which it bore, together with a toy, and then all returned home quite delighted.”
It is interesting to note that the tree stood in an “immense tub” in the middle of the room, presumably on the floor; all the other references that I found talk about table-top Christmas trees.
But Christmas trees were not popular until the reign of Queen Victoria.
Enjoy an excerpt from LADY HOPE AND THE DUKE OF DARKNESS
Christmas, Highland Manor, Tunbridge Wells, 1822
Hope stood back to admire her efforts. Greenery festooned every available place in the parlor, and the scent of pine blended with coal smoke drifting from the hearth. With a heavy sigh, she took another ribbon from the box on the floor. Since touring the Continent with Aunt Amelia, she was more aware of the slow pace of life in the country. Especially now that the snowy weather kept everyone indoors. Consumed with impatience, she couldn’t wait for her life to begin, but the thought of her come-out made her stomach tighten. She banished her nerves with a brisk shake of her head and attached a gilt orange to the woven green arch of holly and pine standing on its wicker base.
When the cat eyed the new addition, Hope reached down and stroked Sable’s soft grey fur. “You won’t touch any of my decorations, will you, pet?”
Sable purred and rolled over, displaying her swollen belly. “We really must try and stop the stable cat, from visiting Sable. Two litters of kittens this year is quite enough,” she said to her sister Charity, who sat reading on the sofa.
“It’s not entirely Old Tom’s fault. Sable is frightfully abandoned.” Charity studied a picture in her book. “I’m thinking of taking up sculpture.”
“Oh?” Arranging a silver paper streamer that their younger sister had created brought her to mind. “Where is Mercy?” Hope asked.
“At the home farm.”
Hope frowned. “She’s always there these days.”
“It’s where she makes her concoctions. Cook has banned her from the kitchen. Mercy has set up what she calls a laboratory.”
“A laboratory. For scientific endeavors.”
“Good heavens! Isn’t she only making creams to treat skin ailments?”
“No, she has gone onto more ambitious projects. Miss Foley gave Mercy a book about a Frenchman called de Lavoisier. He was, I think, involved in chemistry during the French Revolution.”
Hope threaded red ribbon amongst the bright holly berries. She stepped back to study the effect. “I don’t like the sound of that. She may be accused of being a traitor and arrested like Guy Fawkes.”
“I doubt she can achieve much with the little she has. But even the fact that de Lavoisier was guillotined hasn’t deterred her.”
Sable fixed her smoky gaze on the trailing ribbon within reach and sprang. The cat batted at the trimming. The arch tottered on its stand, scattering decorations over the carpet. Hope rushed to steady it. “Naughty cat.”
Their footman entered the room and added coal to the fire.
“I hate the cold.” Hope rubbed her arms. “The French climate is warmer.”
“So it seems are the men,” Charity said. “At least according to Miss Edgeworth’s Leonora.”
“Well one or two, certainly,” Hope said with a slow smile. “They are so much more….”
“I’m not sure exactly, but whatever it is, they have more of it than English men.”
#Regency #Christmas #ChristmasTraditions