Christmas has been around forever, hasn't it? Well, at least since Christ was born. But when we have long standing traditions engrained into our lives it is hard to imagine it any other way. Authors must check their facts to authenticate their cultural settings so I thought I share with you some of my own research discoveries on this very special time of year.
Since I have long been immersed in learning about Colonial American culture I was aware that Christmas was pretty much non-existant in the New England colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. Christmas was celebrated mostly by the middle and southern colonies and the northeast, particularly Massachusetts, refrained from the gaudy holiday due to their Puritan influence. So if you ever catch me writing Christmas into a New England set colonial I better have a good reason.
When writing my novella 'Tis the Season for Mistletoe Memories, I had to do a little research on how—if Christmas was celebrated—in New Jersey in the year 1820. What began as a book title—Mistletoe Memories—soon evolved into a plot element when the mistletoe found in New Jersey became the spot for my characters first kiss. Many Americans knew little about the holiday and it was Washington Irving's Christmas stories written in 1820 that revived the English festive celebrations with the remembrance of old St. Nicholas and kissing under the mistletoe.
"The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas; and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked, the privilege ceases."
~ Old Christmas From the Sketch Book of Washington Irving
"O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!
Thou bidds't us all place faithfully
Our trust in God, unchangingly!"
~ O Tannenbaum, German Christmas Carol
Whether your write or read fiction, finding Christmas in our stories adds a delightful element that often touches on our own holiday memories!
May you be blessed as you find Christmas this year!
The History of Christmas in America
GIVEAWAY: In honor of Christmas I'll be giving away a copy of MISTLETOE MEMORIES to one commenter. I'd love to hear about your favorite novels or novellas with Christmas themes!
Carla Olson Gade has written two books to bring joy to your Christmas. Her novella "'Tis the Season" is featured in Mistletoe Memories and a short story "Upon a Christmas Tree Schooner" can be found in Guidepost Books, A Cup of Christmas Cheer. Carla shares her writing journey at Adventures of the Heart.