Sunday, December 20, 2015

Regency Christmas: Then Vs. Now (& FREE DOWNLOAD)


I could not settle upon the best way to  highlight a Regency era Christmastide because, well, there is so much that CAN be said about it, that I've actually written an entire book on the subject (see below). 
 I had read enough novels set in the regency to know that a lot of writers were getting things very, very wrong. In some cases, it wasn't so much the writer as the publisher, as, for instance, they would put a big Christmas tree on the front cover of a regency. (No, no, no! Queen Charlotte liked a big tree at the palace, but they were truly rare in England until Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized them, well after the Regency.)
Errors like that drive me to distraction. Hence, I researched like a hound-dog to
get the facts. Now, I am not above making my fair share of mistakes, believe me, but something like that strikes me as a glaring error and had to be redressed. 

So..what other major differences were there between then and now? Actually, quite a few; but they can be summed up in one word:

 There was little to none during the Regency. To understand why, you'd have to read my book, because it  certainly wasn't due to a lack of merchants who would have been delighted to make a profit from the holiday.  
But to highlight some of the differences between a regency Christmas and that of today, I'll borrow my friend Deb Hockenberry's words, who wrote this (about the book, but it's a great summary of the differences!)
Ebook available (as PDF) only by email. See below for how to order.
"Did you know that Christmas in the 1800's was different from what we know?
Christmas then was a kinder, gentler time.  There are some traditions that are different but there are also some that are the same.  For instance, did you know that people then didn't decorate for Christmas until Christmas Day?  They used real mistletoe, holly, branches and other things gathered from the forest.  Some things never change like kissing under the mistletoe and Christmas caroling.
People did give presents then but they didn't receive as many.  They weren't so materialistic as we are now.  Then, the focus of Christmas was on church, family and friends...  While I was reading, I could have sworn I heard the sound of sleigh bells!  Also included in the book are recipes for Christmas cookies, poems, a pumpkin pie recipe and loads more things from that era.."
Thanks, Deb! But I have to clarify that Christmas was only kinder and gentler in the sense that it wasn't a commercial heyday, and didn't tax anyone's pocket too greatly. 

Cookies were called biscuits during the Regency, and pumpkin pie would not necessarily have found its way to a Regency Christmas table. Christmas Eve was an acceptable time for decorating, although the Yule Log would be brought in only on Christmas Day, and for country folk. Mistletoe was observed as a kissing bough among the servant class only (for the most part), and caroling, in the sense we know it, was not common. People might sing on street corners hoping to gain a few pence from passersby, but only if there were no "Waits"--organized groups who did the caroling--. If there were, it fell to their domain, and it was a guarded one, since they too expected to be rewarded for their efforts. 

So here's the takeaway for you: Large Christmas trees were popular in Germany and Germanic countries long, long before they were popularized in England. Queen Charlotte, not Prince Albert, first introduced the tall tree in England. But Prince Albert's tree was shown in the paper, and at a time when a growing middle class could afford to buy trees and presents to put under it. So the custom then took off.  

Prior to that time, many homes didn't have trees at all. They might have an abundance of holly and ivy and mistletoe and other greenery, but if they had a Christmas tree, it was usually a table-top specimen. Like the size of the tree, gifts were also smaller.   

Even Prince Albert's Victorian tree was still set atop a table. 
Personally, I'm grateful for the Christmas tree tradition. I don't confuse it with the true meaning of the holiday, I don't need it to rejoice in the birth of my Saviour, but I love the ambience and lights and the way it adds sparkling beauty to a room! What about you? Do you love decorating your tree each year? What is most special to you about it?   

Before you go, take advantage of my free download: Regency House Christmas Recipes. Normally, this is only available as part of the Regency House Christmas Package, but which I'm giving to you for free. If you've ever wanted to recreate a regency-era dinner for Christmas or thereabouts, this PDF will be your guide. But it's not just recipes. It also includes fun facts, illustrations and other things to make it a must-see for the history buff! Enjoy!

Wishing you a Merry and Blessed Christmas!  

Regency House Christmas: The Definitive Guide to a Remarkably Regency Yuletide is available as a PDF only. Order by email at Linore(at)  LinoreBurkard(dot)com. Christmas Special: $3.99 To see the table of contents, click HERE.(This is the contents of the main book only, NOT the full package.) 

Linore Rose Burkard  is best known for her Inspirational Regency Romance Series, which whisks readers back in time to early 19th century England. Authenticity and heart-warming adventure are par for the course in her books. Fans of romance in the tradition of Austen and Heyer (such as Pride & Prejudice, Cotillion, and even My Fair Lady), enjoy meeting Linore's feisty heroines and dashing heroes.


  1. Forgot to say, the free download is only available until 12/23 so grab it fast!!

  2. Hey, great post...very interesting. I love my tree, especially late at night when the house is quiet....very peaceful. And I love adding new ornaments each year, made by my grandchildren. Merry Christmas and may the Lord bless your New Year.

  3. Very interesting! Thanks for yet another informative and entertaining post.

  4. Thank you Chappy Deb. I agree about enjoying the tree late at night when the house is quiet. Ornaments have a way of accumulating though! But they grow special, especially when made by the kids. :) And thank you, 'Just Commonly!' Be sure to grab the Regency Recipe book, ladies. You may find yourselves making a plum pudding!