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Many Christmas traditions and images of ‘old fashioned’ holidays are based on Victorian celebrations. Going back just a little further, to the beginning of the 19th century, the holiday Jane Austen knew would have looked distinctly odd to modern sensibilities. How odd? Families rarely decorated Christmas trees. Festivities centered on socializing instead of gift-giving. Festivities focused on adults, with children largely consigned to the nursery. Holiday events, including balls, parties, dinners, and even weddings celebrations, started a week before Advent and extended all the way through to Twelfth Night in January.
Take a step into history with Maria Grace as she explores the traditions, celebrations, games and foods that made up Christmastide in Jane Austen's era. Packed with information and rich with detail from period authors, Maria Grace transports the reader to a longed-for old fashioned Christmas.
What would “The Twelve Days of Jane” be without a book chock-filled with Regency-era traditions and customs to enable us to learn even more about how the holidays were celebrated in Jane’s time? Since I have only experienced Christmas through my own American heritage, I was eager to learn more about how people during this era recognized the holiday season and imagine how Jane and her beloved characters may have enjoyed this season as well.
I wasn’t surprised to learn about how the holiday season during this era was celebrated in a more simple manner and how different customs and traditions, such as Christmas trees and other more traditional decorations, were slowly being introduced throughout several parts of Europe, along with how each country retained and shared customs that had significant meanings to their cultures. I enjoyed learning about the similarities between these customs, as well as how some traditions, such as the Yule Candle, reminded me of other holidays celebrated throughout the world. The book is organized by topics, which in various food traditions, such as plum pudding, and holiday entertaining, as well as various forms of entertainment, gift giving, holiday decorations, assorted games and activities that transpired during the holiday, and specific information about the numerous holidays that occur during the holiday season. Now you can imagine why I say the book is chock-filled with so much interesting information!
Maria Grace does include some recipes that look like they would be delectable dishes for entertaining during the season, such as Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, which are two of my favorite holiday meals. She also includes a beverage section towards the end of the book, several of them being punches for large groups of people. There are also many traditional sweet dishes to try for your own dessert table. Many of the recipes aren’t ones that I am familiar with making myself, but I could easily imagine giving the Rice Pudding, and the Common Biscuits a try in my own kitchen.
I also liked learning about the tiny details that I hadn’t even thought about regarding these holiday celebrations, such as the kind of clothing the gentry wore, the formal routines that guided their behaviors even during simple processes, such as seating places, course choices, and the way a family prepared their home for a ball. We often imagine the glamour behind these experiences, but it was interesting to learn a bit more about the actions taking place behind-the-scenes during some of these events.
This book is a rather quick read, and can be easy dipped in and out of as you read other holiday books this season, or in one briefer sitting. Maria does a nice job giving just enough information about each topic to information the reader and then moves he/she along pretty quickly into the next topic in the book. I read and reviewed her second book in this series, titled Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World and even though this book is well-written and informative, I missed reading about how the characters from Austen’s book fit into these traditions. This would be a more challenging connection to make in this book compared to her second book, but I would have liked a few references made to how our dearest characters would have been involved throughout these holiday seasons throughout this book.
Maria Grace can be counted on to bring the Regency era to life through her careful research and her ability to focus on the topics related to this era that will interest JAFF and Regency novel readers! I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys learning more about the history behind this simpler time.
I’d like to offer a giveaway for this ebook to one Just Jane 1813 reader. To enter this special giveaway, leave a comment on this post on this blog by midnight, ET, on December 15th and on December 16, 2016, I will announce the winner of this ebook.
To make this holiday blog event even sweeter, I am offering a giveaway of one of my very own favorite finds from 2016; a pair of Plantronics wireless headphones, which will be given away to one Just Jane 1813 reader, along with one JAFF audiobook of your choice, from Audible.
All you have to do to enter this special giveaway is leave a comment on every post on this blog from December 1-12, 2016. Just think of it as your way of saying “Hello” to us every day during this event and letting me know what you think about each post. At midnight, ET, on December 15th, I will select the winner of these headphones and JAFF audiobook from the names of the readers who commented on each post, and on December 16, 2016, I will announce the winner of these awesome headphones.
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Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.
She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her 10th book last year.
Maria Grace can be contacted at: author.MariaGrace@gmail.com
Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16 year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences.
She blogs at Random Bits of Fascination (www.RandomBitsofFascination.com) , mainly about her fascination with Regency-era history and its role in her fiction. Her newest novel, The Trouble to Check Her, was released in March 2016. Both Science Fiction and Fantasy projects are currently in the works. Her books, fiction, and nonfiction, are available at all major online booksellers.
You can follow Maria Grace on Twitter (https://twitter.com/WriteMariaGrace , @writeMariaGrace) and like (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maria-Grace/142931065811118?ref=hl) or friend her (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMariaGrace) on Facebook.