A Little Jane for the Holidays

Holiday Book Event 2014 copy

The holidays are fast approaching and it seems like an ideal time to indulge in our two favorite things at Austen Variations, share our variations on Jane Austen’s works and give away great prizes. So for the next five weeks we will be sharing our holiday themed books with chanced to win on every post.

Use the rafflecopter below to put in your entries for the giveaway.  Winners will be drawn each week for the book featured in the post.  After Twelfth Night, Winners for all the rest of the prizes will be selected. To spread the good cheer, there will only be one prize per winner.

Visit Austen Variations every Wed in December for a new holiday book and more chances to win!

Regeny Christmas 15When I wrote Twelfth Night at Longbourn, I found myself neck deep in research about Regency era holiday traditions.  Learning but them was such great fun that I couldn’t keep it to myself, so I had to publish all the research too. I hope you enjoy an excerpt of A Jane Austen Christmas.

Celebrating a Jane Austen Christmas

Each year the holiday season seems to begin earlier and earlier. Complaints about holiday excesses and longings for ‘simpler’ and ‘old fashioned’ holiday celebrations abound. But what exactly does an ‘old fashioned Christmas’ really look like?

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 (the fourth Sunday before Christmas) and extended all the way through to Twelfth Night in January.

As today, not everyone celebrated the same way or observed all the same customs, but many observances were widely recognized. Some of the traditions and dates that might have been observed included:

Stir it up Sunday

On the fifth Sunday before Christmas, the family would gather to ‘stir up’ Christmas puddings that needed to age before serving at Christmas dinner.

December 6th: St. Nicholas Day

In a tradition from Northern Europe, the day might be celebrated with the exchange of small gifts, particularly for children. House parties and other Christmastide visiting also began on or near this day.

December 21st: St. Thomas Day

Elderly women and widows went ‘thomasing’ at the houses of their more fortunate neighbors, hoping for gifts of food or money. Oftentimes landowners cooked and distributed wheat, an especially expensive commodity, to the ‘mumpers’ who came begging.

December 24th: Christmas Eve

Holiday decorating happened on Christmas Eve when families cut or bought evergreen boughs to deck the house. The greenery remained in place until Epiphany when it was removed and burned lest it bring bad luck.

December 25th: Christmas day

Families typically began the day with a trip to church and might pick up their Christmas goose from the local baker on the way home. Though gifts were not usually exchanged on Christmas, children might receive small gifts and cottagers might give generous landowners a symbolic gift in appreciation of their kindness.

The day culminated in a much anticipated feast. Traditional foods included boar’s head, brawn, roast goose, mince meat pies, and the Christmas puddings made a month earlier.

December 26th: Boxing Day

After receiving their Christmas boxes, servants usually enjoyed a rare day off. Churches distributed the money from their alms-boxes.

Families might attend the opening day of pantomimes. The wealthy traditionally enjoyed fox hunting on this day.

December 31: New Year’s Eve

Families thoroughly cleaned the house before gathering in a circle before midnight to usher out the old year and in the new.

Some Scots and folks of northern England believed in ‘first footing’—the first visitor to set foot across the threshold after midnight on New Year’s Eve affected the family’s fortunes. The ‘first footer’ entered through the front door and left through the back door, taking all the old year’s troubles and sorrows with him.

Jan 1: New Year’s Day

The events of New Year’s Day predicted the fortunes for the coming year, with a variety of traditions said to discern the future like ‘creaming the well’, or the burning of a hawthorn bush.

Jan 6th: Twelfth Night

A feast day honoring the coming of the Magi, Epiphany or Twelfth Night, marked the traditional climax of the holiday season and the time when celebrants exchanged gifts.

Revels, masks and balls were the order of the day. With the rowdy games and large quantities of highly alcoholic punch, they became so raucous that Queen Victoria outlawed Twelfth Night parties by the 1870′s.

  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Here are some of the wonderful prizes .

GGP 4_2013_final_small  Pemberely Celebrations  Holiday man  MrDsXmasCalendarJOdiwe  Plains_cover_full_shadowThe-Persuasion-of-Miss-Jane-Austen_NOOK    mrd'sproposal    Mr Darcys Pledge Cover MEDIUM WEB    What Would Mr Darcy DoRegeny Christmas 15butterfly mag copy  bluebird mag copy      JA Christmas Boxchatsworth xmas dinner a Rafflecopter giveaway


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  1. This looks wonderful. Not only might we get to win a wonderful new book, but we get to learn the old traditions, or even where some of our family traditions came from! Thank you!

    • Yvonne Farmer on December 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm
    • Reply


  2. I love Jane Austin, wonderful prizes! I am in the Us 🙂

    • Dennise Brown on December 11, 2014 at 11:00 am
    • Reply

    LOVE ALL Jane Austen books…I reread all the classics….A new one would be AWESOME! No preference and I am in Canada.

    • Lula Ruger on December 11, 2014 at 11:27 am
    • Reply

    I love Jane and any prize would be awesome !

      • Lula Ruger on December 11, 2014 at 11:28 am
      • Reply

      sorry US

    • Melody Gonser on December 14, 2014 at 9:52 pm
    • Reply

    Wow, a wonderful variety of gifts. USA. What a great chance to win books, prints or treats. I didn’t realize there were so many Jane Austen items out there. I am a kid at heart so I will trust you to choose something for. From what is offered, any gift would be great. Thank you, Thank you

    • Lisa S on December 15, 2014 at 8:35 am
    • Reply

    I’m a huge Austen fan and love any book about her life and different renditions of P&P. I’m in the US and would love any book(s) from the list!

    Thanks so much!!

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