You Might Be a Regency Redneck If…
A Guest Post by Louisa Cornell
I write Regency historical romance because I fell in love with the era at the age of nine, and my love has only grown stronger since. I love the manners, the rules of proper conduct, the elegant clothes (especially men in breeches and boots,) travel in carriages and on horseback, the stately homes, and every aspect of life in this unique period.
Be that as it may, I have come to realize there are some aspects of Regency life, even in the most elite portions of society, that would not be amiss in the red plastic cup, mud-bogging, tobacco spitting locale in which I live today. Directions to my house do include the words “Turn off the paved road.”
Lest you think I use the term “redneck” as a pejorative, I spent a large portion of my childhood living in mobile homes in the South. My mother’s family were Native American sharecroppers. My father’s family were Pennsylvania coal miners. I know who and what I am. Jeff Foxworthy, the leading expert on the redneck lifestyle, defines it as “a glorious lack of sophistication.” For the purposes of this essay, and in my semi-expert opinion, that is the definition we will use.
There are examples of redneck behavior to be found in every race, religion, socio-economic group, and country in the world. I now realize the same is true of every historical era. Rednecks have been with us forever. Even during that most gracious and elegant of times—The Regency.
Prove it, you say? I give you a series of Regency Christmas traditions any self-respecting redneck would be happy to call his or her own.
Under the heading of a Regency version of “Hey y’all, watch this!” comes the Christmas game of Snapdragon. Raisins and nuts were soaked in brandy in a large shallow bowl. The lights were put out, and the brandy lit. People had to try and grasp a raisin or nut and eat it without burning themselves. The winner was the person who managed to capture and eat the most. I think you’d have to soak me in brandy to get me to try it!
Another Regency era Christmas game with a redneck flair is bullet pudding. One must have a large pewter dish piled high with flour pushed to a peak at the top. A single bullet is placed at the crest of the “pudding.” Players take turns cutting a slice of the “pudding” with a knife. The person who is slicing the “pudding” when the bullet falls must then put their hands behind their back and poke about in the pile of flour with their nose and chin to find the bullet. Once they find it, they must retrieve it with their mouth. All the while trying desperately not to join their companions in laughter as this will result in flour being inhaled into the mouth and nose. Regardless, the bullet retriever ends up with flour all over his face. Any game played with live ammunition and the promise of someone ending up covered in a mess would be as welcome at a Redneck Christmas as it was at Regency Christmases.
There were no Christmas carolers in Regency England. However, wassail groups would go from house to house singing begging songs in the hope of receiving food, drink, and money. Wassail was a mixture of beer, wine, and brandy and was usually served to the singers at each house. Every house. A great many houses before the night was done. I think I’ve seen groups like this around my neighborhood at Christmas-time.
Very few houses had our idea of Christmas trees during the Regency. Such decorated Christmas trees were made popular in England by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the middle of the 19th century. However, trees were not left out of the Regency holidays. On Epiphany Eve, men would gather round a fruit tree, usually in an orchard, with cider and guns. In an ancient ceremony, they would drink to the tree and fire the guns to drive away evil spirits and promote the vigor of the trees. Horn-blowing was an alternative to firing guns. (Sounds like a Regency tail-gating party to me!)
Speaking of trees, what could be more fun than a large group of men sent out into the woods to find the largest log possible to burn in the Christmas fireplace? The yule log had to be large enough to burn through the entire twelve days of Christmas. In fact, it had to be large enough to burn through to Twelfth Night and leave enough to be used to light next year’s log. Between the mine is bigger than yours aspects of the hunt for the yule log and the opportunity to show off one’s strength in helping to drag the log home, this Regency Christmas tradition is rife with redneck possibilities.
Round out your Regency Christmas outdoor adventures with shooting mistletoe out of the trees (a method used by many Regency bucks) and hanging it about the house in every doorway and dark corner, a Regency version of spin-the-bottle if ever I’ve heard one.
Oh, and don’t forget a Christmas dessert for which many families put the ingredients on layaway. K-Mart did not invent the concept. The original Christmas clubs were for families who could not afford to pay for the ingredients for their Christmas pudding all at once. Wives in less affluent households deposited their pennies with their local shopkeepers in order to have the money to purchase those luxury food items necessary for a proper Christmas pudding. And after all of that, said dessert was brought to the table amidst great pomp and ceremony and… set on fire. Anyone who doesn’t believe your average redneck would shout “Hell, yeah!” at the idea of a flaming Christmas dessert has never been to a Christmas barbecue in the South.
At the end of Christmas Day, men and women of every age, no matter how strict the rules of society, tend to celebrate this joyous holiday with a bit more exuberance than decorum prescribes. Even Regency ladies and gentlemen, at least during Christmastide, might show “a glorious lack of sophistication.” So should we all!
Title: Christmas Revels II: Four Regency Novellas
Author: Louisa Cornell
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Singing Spring Press
Let the Revels begin-again! Four new stories with four distinctive voices:
The Vicar’s Christmas – Margaret Trent never needs anything or anyone, but when two London solicitors show up on her doorstep, she needs a hero. Enter Henry Ogden, mild-mannered village vicar. Hardly the stuff of heroes… until adversity brings out unexpected talents.
A Christmas Equation – A chance meeting between a reluctant viscount and a self-effacing companion revives memories of their shared past-a time when they were very different people. With secrets to keep, Sarah Clendenin wishes Benjamin Radcliff gone… but he’s making calculations of his own.
Crimson Snow – A trail of blood drops leads Jane Merrywether to a wounded stranger-the only person standing in the way of her wicked guardian becoming an earl. John Rexford, long-thought dead, has returned to claim his inheritance and his promised bride… if he can survive a murderous Christmas.
A Perfectly Unregimented Christmas – After years at war, Viscount Pennyworth returns to his ancestral home to find some peace and quiet and to avoid the holiday he loathes. But four naughty boys, a bonnet-wearing goat, a one-eyed cat, a family secret, and one Annabelle Winters, governess, make this a Christmas he’ll never forget.
Christmas in July Fete Sackful of Giveaways:
Grand Prize: $75 USD Amazon Gift Card
$5 Amazon gift card and a 1940’s style hair wrap
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Starts July 1, 2017 12:01 am EST and ends August 1, 2017 12:00 am EST
Amazon – http://a.co/4ogrKbC
Louisa Cornell read her first historical romance novel, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, at the age of nine. This inspired her to spend the next three years of her young life writing the most horrible historical romance novel ever written. Fortunately, it has yet to see the light of day. As Louisa spent those three years living in a little English village in Suffolk (Thanks to her father’s Air Force career.) it is no surprise she developed a lifelong love of all things British, especially British history and Regency-set romance novels. (And Earl Grey tea!)
During those same three years, Louisa’s vocal talent was discovered. Her study of music began at the London College of Music and continued once she returned to the States. After four music degrees and a year of study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, Louisa was fortunate enough to embark on a singing career in opera houses in Germany, Austria, and most of Eastern Europe.
Now retired from an active career in opera, Louisa has returned to her first love – writing Regency-set historical romance. Two of her novellas have appeared in CHRISTMAS REVELS anthologies, A PERFECTLY DREADFUL CHRISTMAS and A PERFECTLY UNREGIMENTED CHRISTMAS . A PERFECTLY DREADFUL CHRISTMAS was the 2015 Winner of the Holt Medallion Award for outstanding literary fiction in a romance novella. Her first full-length novel, LOST IN LOVE, has recently been published and is available widely.
Two-time Golden Heart finalist, three time Daphne du Maurier winner, and three time Royal Ascot winner, Louisa is a member of RWA, SMRWA and the Beau Monde Chapter of RWA. She lives in LA (Lower Alabama) with a Chihuahua so grouchy he has been banned from six veterinary clinics, several perfectly amiable small dogs, and a cat who terminates vermin with extreme prejudice.
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