We’re so pleased to have Holly Newman back on the blog today to talk about the new limited-time OHB Christmas box set she’s a part of, All I want for Christmas… Is You. So, we’ll zip our lips and let Holly take it from here!
Written and recorded by Mariah Carey in 1994, All I want for Christmas is You regularly tops the charts as one of the most popular Christmas songs in the world. By no coincidence, it’s also one of the most romantic Christmas songs ever written. What resonates with so many of its listeners is the fact that it speaks to that key tenant of Christmas: Love.
But did you know that at the end of the 18th century, many Christmas and Christmastide traditions were kept alive solely by rural folk and the belowstairs servants in the grand houses? Gentry and aristocrats primarily associated the season with the serious religious ceremonies.
However, during the Regency and beyond, tired of the wars and with the industrial revolution transforming the known world, people of all walks of life began to hark back to simpler times.
Christmastide, the period from Christmas Eve to Twelfth Night, became a rally call for remembrance, for remembering love, charity, and goodwill to all. Rich and poor, country or city, it became a time of parties, singing, pantomimes, laughter, wassails, and mummers. Gifts were not yet exchanged—except in many wealthy households, where the servants received a gift from the master and mistress, perhaps new gloves for a footman or a shawl for a servant—but that didn’t stop people from finding other ways to show that Christmas equaled love.
One invigorated tradition was hanging greenery, particularly cupid’s mistletoe; a tradition that still lives on today and has been immortalized in these words below.
Sweet emblem of returning peace,
the heart’s full gush and love’s release,
Spirits in human fondness flow
and greet the pearly mistletoe.
Oh! Happy tricksome time of mirth,
giv’n to the stars of sky and earth!
May all the best of feeling know,
the custom of the mistletoe.
Married and single, proud and free,
yield to the season, trim with glee:
Time will not stay … he cheats us so
… A kiss? … ’tis gone … the mistletoe
If you want to learn more about The Legend of the Mistletoe, you can click here. Or, if you do treat yourself to a copy of All I want for Christmas… Is You, it features in my novella, The Rocking Horse. You’ll find even more traditions sprinkled throughout the collection, but above all, what you’ll find resonating out of each and every one of the Christmas novellas is that one key tenant that we keep coming back to: Love.
Holly Newman is a pseudonym for Holly Thompson. She lives in Florida seven miles from the Gulf Coast with Ken and their six cats. Holly decided to be a writer when she was in the fifth grade and filled notebooks with stories—until a mean-spirited high school teacher told her she had no talent for writing. Crushed, for several years she stopped writing, but the writing bug didn’t go away. Her first book won first place in the University of Texas at Dallas fiction writing competition and was first runner-up for the Rita award from Romance Writers of America.
Holly’s interest in the Regency period came while in high school and she volunteered to re-shelve returned books at the community library. Every week there were Georgette Heyer novels to be shelved. Curious, she checked one out and became immersed in the world of the regency.
Fast forward ten years. When attending Science Fiction Conventions she met people who read science fiction; but also enjoyed the works of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, just as she did. They liked these books so much that they wore regency costumes at the science fiction convention. They even had regency era dancing on the convention program. These Science Fiction readers and writers knew a lot about the regency era. Intrigued, Holly did research on the era and quickly went from being a casual regency reader to a regency history buff. After that, with encouragement from science fiction authors, it was just a small step to writing regencies.