That’s Irish for “Merry Christmas.” With Christmas quickly closing in on us, I thought I’d talk about my latest Christmas anthology and some of the Irish Christmas traditions I uncovered while researching my novella.
My first three fictions sales were for novellas. The way this works with my publisher is that an author comes up with an idea for an anthology then recruits three other authors to work with them.(One can be unpublished but three of the authors must already be established with my publisher) Once the anthology team is assembled, the group brainstorms ideas and decides in which direction they want to go and then a proposal is put together and submitted to the editor. Each author will write a 20,000 word novella. Sometimes these novella collections are very closely linked by family or town. Those require much more collaboration than ones linked only by theme.
1. One of the characters must marry by Christmas or something bad
2. The stories must be set on the prairie.
3. The heroines must not be American, but from another country
and some of her Christmas traditions must be included in the
When Jackson Lancaster’s brother and wife are killed in a stage holdup, he takes his three-year-old niece home. But a meddling busy-body makes the local judge give her custody, “because an unmarried man shouldn’t raise a little girl.” Now Jackson has until Christmas to find a bride or lose his niece forever. Larkin Doyle is grateful her employer took in the orphan and believes Jackson abandoned his niece. When her heart decides otherwise, will romance blossom?
The placing of a lighted candle in the window of a house on Christmas Eve had a number of purposes, but primarily it was a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they traveled looking for shelter. The candle was a way of saying there was room for Jesus’ parents in these homes even if there was none in Bethlehem. The candle should be lit by the youngest member of the household and could only be extinguished by a girl bearing the name ‘Mary.’ (That could explain why that name used to be so popular)
Roast goose, stuffed with potatoes and onions, pig’s head garlanded with curly cabbage, a piece of salt beef, and an abundance of potatoes was, and is, the never-changing menu in humble Irish households. In wealthier homes, rice pudding, plentifully sprinkled with currants, or plum pudding, was served. Among the more traditional Irish elements were spiced beef (spiced over several days, cooked, and then pressed) which can be served either hot or cold. The traditional dessert is usually composed of mince pies, Christmas pudding, and brandy or rum sauce.
Gift Giving and St. Stephen’s Day:
Before Christmas it was customary to give small gifts, usually of the cash variety, to deliverymen. Long ago, this was done on St. Stephen’s day, also known as Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). Traditionally, pantomime plays are performed on St. Stephen’s day, in which women play the men’s roles and vice-versa. In Dublin there are usually several plays going on with subjects including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, and Babes in the Wood.
The wren, the wren,
the king of all birds
Most people treat the Wren Boys to porter and pudding. Any young people in the house are cajoled to continue on with the gang until there is a decent assembly of young folk being followed by most of the children in the neighborhood. They will end up in some neighbor’s house, and if someone produces a fiddle, the party begins.
Irish Christmas traditions draw to a close on January 6th. The 12 days of the Irish Christmas season mark the twelve days between the birth of Christ and the arrival of the “Three Wise Men”, the Magi. January 6th is the day of the feast of the Epiphany. It is called “Little Christmas” in Ireland, Nollaig Bheag in Gaelic.
Little Christmas is sacred as a celebration of God’s manifestation to us in human form…Jesus. Some say that long ago, before Western Civilization adopted the Gregorian calendar, the Epiphany was the traditional day to celebrate the birth of Christ, and that this is the reason the Irish still call this day Little Christmas.
Isn’t it interesting how many of our traditions today date back to some of these? I did a lot of research on Irish Christmas celebrations but was able to use very little of it in my short novella. Of course, I’m saving it, and maybe one of these days, I’ll write a longer book and have the chance to incorporate more of my research.
Here’s a link if you’d like to buy my book: http://www.amazon.com/Bride-Christmas-English-Inspirational-Collection/dp/1602601194/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226017067&sr=1-2
If you care to make a comment, your name will be entered in a drawing to receive a free copy of A Bride by Christmas.