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December 2012: Feasts & Celebrations in Literature

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
J.D. Oswald
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Post by J.D. Oswald » Wed December 5th, 2012, 7:32 pm

There's old Fezziwig's dance in A Christmas Carol, and the descriptions of the feast surrounding the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the meat, fruit and candied sweets in the grocers' shops.

As a child, I used to love the descriptions of food in Enid Blyton's Famous Five books: hams, crusty bread, slabs of butter. And pictures of huge sandwich cakes, not at all like the real ones!

annis
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Post by annis » Wed December 5th, 2012, 7:42 pm

The Duchess of Richmond's Ball even featured in Bryon's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage!

It's appeared in numerous Regency historical romances over the years, though the only one whose title comes to mind at the moment is The last Waltz, by Dorothy Mack.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed December 5th, 2012, 7:42 pm

I heard somewhere that Christmas, as a celebration, went quite out of style during Cromwell's period, and although Charles II was generally riotous, he didn't emphasize the holiday. According to my source (a Dickens re-enactor) it wasn't until Victorian times that Christmas became the biggest holiday of the English year, and Dicken's story had a lot to do with that. Can anybody confirm this?

annis
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Post by annis » Wed December 5th, 2012, 7:50 pm

Posted by MLE
I heard somewhere that Christmas, as a celebration, went quite out of style during Cromwell's period
Yes, the Parliamentarians killed Christmas stone dead. Smacked of Roman Catholicism, pagan traditions etc etc (all quite true, but still!) It was a little-known man, William Winstanley, after Charles II's restoration, who successfully lobbied the King to reinstate Christmas as a time of celebration.

Here's his story.
William Winstanley: the man who saved Christmas
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... isery.html

Dicken's Christmas Carol was extremely influential in reviving the popularity of Christmas in the Victorian period, but he was riding on the coat tails of an already existing nostalgic movement which started in the 1820s and was given a strong boost by Prince Albert's introduction of German Christmas customs to England after his marriage to Queen Victoria.
Last edited by annis on Wed December 5th, 2012, 11:55 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Thu December 6th, 2012, 12:59 am

[quote=""J.D. Oswald""]

As a child, I used to love the descriptions of food in Enid Blyton's Famous Five books: hams, crusty bread, slabs of butter. And pictures of huge sandwich cakes, not at all like the real ones![/quote]

Children's Lit is a goldmine for this kind of stuff. Astrid Lindgren's Noisy Village books describe all kinds of down-home food and family traditions. Here are some snippets from the Christmas chapter of The Children of Noisy Village:
I don't know when Christmas starts in other places, but in Noisy Village it starts the day we bake ginger snaps. We have almost as much fun that day as on Christmas Eve.
A day or so later after they get their tree:
Then it was time to "dip in the pot.". Mommy gave us large slices of rye bread that Agda had baked, and we dipped them in the broth that the ham had cooked in. My, how good it was! Then there was nothing to do but WAIT.
At last it was really Christmas Eve, and we ate supper at the folding table in the kitchen. There were candles on the table and an awful lot of food, but I didn't eat much except the ham. I did eat porridge, of course, in case I should get the almond. The one who gets the almond in the porridge will surely get married during the coming year.

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Madeleine
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Currently reading: "Lies Sleeping" by Ben Aaronovitch & "The Stone Circle" by Elly Griffiths
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Post by Madeleine » Thu December 6th, 2012, 9:51 am

Yep, Dickens and the Victorians are generally credited for introducing the Christmas celebrations as we now generally know them.

There's loads of food in the Harry Potter books (not HF I know), and don't forget the "lashings of ginger beer" in the Famous Five books, to wash all that food down!
Currently reading "Lies Sleeping" by Ben Aaronovitch & "The Stone Circle" by Elly Griffiths

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Thu December 6th, 2012, 10:52 am

My next read is The Food of Love by Anthony Capella - Italian food is the central theme. It's not historical fiction but sounds delicious! LOL.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Antoine Vanner
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Later Puritans' View of Christmas

Post by Antoine Vanner » Fri December 7th, 2012, 12:52 pm

[quote=""MLE""]I heard somewhere that Christmas, as a celebration, went quite out of style during Cromwell's period, and although Charles II was generally riotous, he didn't emphasize the holiday. According to my source (a Dickens re-enactor) it wasn't until Victorian times that Christmas became the biggest holiday of the English year, and Dickens' story had a lot to do with that. Can anybody confirm this?[/quote]

For a sad but hilarious account of a miserable Christmas in a latter-day Puritan household in the 1850s see Edmund Gosse's magnificent memoir "Father and Son".

The widowed father loathed Christmas as a Popish invention ("The very name means Christ's Mass") and insisted that the servants serve an especially miserable and frugal meal on the day.The servants took pity on the 6 or 7 year-old Edmund and let him in on the secret that they had made a plum pudding. They gave him some but he felt so guilty about eating it that he confessed to the father, who rushed into the kitchen shouting "Bring me the accursed thing!" and stormed from the house with it to dump it on the rubbish heap.

Gosse's book is one of the great memoirs of childhood and essential reading for anybody interested in the Victorian period.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Fri December 7th, 2012, 4:08 pm

[quote=""annis""]Yes, the Parliamentarians killed Christmas stone dead. Smacked of Roman Catholicism, pagan traditions etc etc (all quite true, but still!) [/quote]

The act of toasting has been campaigned against as well. Here's an interesting web article on the toast throughout history (well worth reading all five pages). If you're wondering why we call it a toast:
Although people had been drinking to one another for centuries, the actual term "toast" did not come along until the late seventeenth century, when it was the custom to place a piece of toast or crouton in a drink.
Have you encountered any memorable toasts in your readings?

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Mon December 10th, 2012, 8:48 pm

Today’s spotlight is on Jubilees. Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee often shows up in Victorian Literature. What others have you come across in your readings?


I found this list of Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees at Wikipedia:

Silver
  • Sultan Abdulhamid II of Ottoman Empire celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 31 August 1901.
  • Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 2 December 1873.
  • Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 2 January 1886 as King of Prussia.
  • King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 18 September 1897.
  • Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 15 June 1913.
  • King George V marked his Silver Jubilee in 1935. A train, Silver Jubilee, was named in honour of this. A number of public parks were opened in Britain around this time with the title Silver Jubilee Park or Jubilee Park.
  • Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 2 November 1955.
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 9 June 1971.
  • Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee was in 1977.
  • Queen Margrethe II of Denmark celebrated her Silver Jubilee on 14 January 1997.
  • King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 15 September 1998.
  • King Juan Carlos I of Spain celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 22 November 2000.
  • Pope John Paul II celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 2003.
  • Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 1996.
  • Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands celebrated her Silver Jubilee on 29 April 2005.
  • Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak celebrated his Silver Jubilee on 3 February 2009.
Forthcoming Silver
  • Emperor Akihito of Japan is expected to have his Silver Jubilee in 2014.
  • King Harald V of Norway is expected to have his Silver Jubilee in 2016.
Golden
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand's longest-reigning monarch, celebrated his Golden Jubilee on 9 June 1996.
  • Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002, having acceded to the throne in 1952
  • Queen Victoria -- In 1887 the United Kingdom and the British Empire celebrated Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Victoria marked 20 June 1887—the fiftieth anniversary of her accession—with a banquet, to which fifty European kings and princes were invited. Although she could not have been aware of it, there was a plan by Irish Republicans to blow Westminster Abbey while the Queen attended a service of thanksgiving. This assassination attempt, when it was discovered, became known as the Jubilee Plot.
  • In Japan, Golden Jubilee refers to a 50th anniversary and is called Go-Zai-i gojūnen kinen (御在位50年記念?). Emperor Hirohito (or Emperor Shōwa), celebrated his Golden Jubilee on 10 November 1976. Showa Memorial Park was established as part of a project to commemorate his Golden Jubilee.
  • Chinese Emperor Wu of Han dynasty (141 BC-87 BC, Jubilee in 91 BC)
  • Chinese Kangxi Emperor of Qing dynasty (1661–1722, Jubilee in 1711)
  • Chinese Qianlong Emperor of Qing dynasty (1735–1796, Jubilee in 1785)
  • Yeongjo of Joseon (Korea, 1724-1776, Jubilee in 1774)
  • In Austria-Hungary, emperor Franz Josef celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 1897.
  • In Malaysia, Sultan Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah celebrated his Golden Jubilee on 15 July 2008 after 50 years reigning the state of Kedah.[1]
  • In Egypt, the Egyptian Television celebrated its Golden Jubilee on 22 July 2010 after 50 years from airing for the first time.
  • In Kenya, the Nation Media Group's Daily Nation and Sunday Nation celebrated their Golden Jubilee in the year 2010 after 50 years from being published for the first time. (Sunday Nation - March 1960; Daily Nation - October 1960)
  • In New Zealand, Kingseat Hospital celebrated 50 years of operation in 1982.,[2] and Maeroa Intermediate in 2004.
  • In Detroit, Michigan in the United States, the 1946 Automotive Golden Jubilee was a citywide celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the American automotive industry.
Diamond
  • Queen Victoria -- On 23 September 1896, Queen Victoria surpassed her grandfather George III as the longest-reigning monarch in English, Scottish and British history. The Queen requested that any special celebrations be delayed until 1897, to coincide with her Diamond Jubilee.
  • Queen Elizabeth II -- celebrated on 2 June 2012, was only the second in the country's history.
From The Telegraph: A History of Jubilee Celebrations

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