Monday, 20 December 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

One the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

The twelve days of Christmas is between the 25th January (Christ's birth) and 6th January (Christ's baptism). All the way back to the 4th century, the celebrations included pagan beliefs such as the burning of the Yule log throughout - it was a bad omen of things to come in the new year if the log burnt out before the 12th day. Indeed, the period of 12 days mapped out originally bracketed a few pagan and raucous roman holidays which were certainly celebrated. It is believed that the the big day itself (25th) was a pagaon holiday and that Pope Julius I chose this day as Christmas day in order to replace pagan with christianity.

Often a Lord of Misrule was appointed during this celebration, turning the powers of the establishment upside down. A servant might be made lord of the manor and preside over revelries, even command the lord to do his bidding... naturally, that servant might take care in exactly how he commanded the lords and nobles, because it wouldn't be long before he was a mere servant again and subject to his lord's will and punishment.

Throughout these twelve days were celebrations of feastings and drinking and games and plays and silliness as well as more seriousn observations such as the lighting of the special mass candle each night and the sermons.

With the industrial revolutions, these 12 days were gradually lost due to increased pressure to work more days...welcome to the present world. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to take 12 days off each year for one long party?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

What am I reading this week

Strictly non-fiction this week and next. Right this minute, my heroine is making her way up to Queen Mary's court in Edinburgh, so it's time to freshen up on the facts and detail. Medieval history is often more exciting and fantastical than any fiction one could dream up, a twisted mix of intrigue, assissination plots, scandalous affairs and romance. Unfortunately, the romance seldom ends in happy-ever-after and even more so in the life of Queen Mary. Her great romance ended shortly after the honeymoon period, her husband Henry Darnley murdered by her powerful barons and Mary fleeing across the border to seek help from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth...yeah, that didn't end so well, either.

Of course, my heroine will get her happy-ever-after, but I've a few heart-breaking paces to put her through yet.

Besides a ton of other research, here's what I'm plowing through....

Mary, Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser
This tomb is over 700 pages and I've already read it front to back twice. Third time's the charm, as they say, although I doubt this will be my last read-through. Mary's world is just so fascinating and Fraser does a superb job of balancing political facts with scrumptous details of Mary as a young, vulnerable woman standing up to her power-hungry barons.

The Castles of Mary, Queen of Scots by Charles Mackie
Haven't started this yet, but hoping for a mind-tour of the various castles Mary either lived in or visited.

Mary, Queen of Scots by Jacob Abbot
Just to balance Mary's story out from another researcher's point of view.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


Santa just arrived, our tree is bulging, and my feet are aching from a marathon shopping spree. I'm not much of a shopper, but I do love the wrapping and watching the pile grow underneath the tree.

This is our first santa-free year. My boys are 10 now, so I guess we had a pretty good running. For the last 2 years, they were a little under-decided - not trusting this whole Santa thing but worried that there'd be no prezzies if they stopped believing. This year they laugh and wink right along with us when we mention Santa. Another era gone in our household and I'll have to box the red suit until the grandchildren come along

So a big HO HO HO to everyone, the season of mulled wine, snow, fairy lights and prezzies is here

Thursday, 2 December 2010

New blog on the block

Some of us Carina Press Historical authors have launched a brand new blog Romancing the Past to discuss and share all things historical. Come check us out :)