by Vickie McDonough
Nollaig Shona Duit!
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that an author comes up with an idea for an anthology then recruits three other authors to work with them.(One can be unpublished but three of the authors must already be established with my publisher) Once the anthology team is assembled, the group brainstorms ideas and decides in which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
Here’s a blurb about my novella, An Irish Bride for Christmas:
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
And here are some Irish Christmas traditions. There are many more, but these are the more widely known ones.
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
THE LADEN TABLE:
After the evening meal on Christmas Eve the kitchen table was again set and on it was placed a loaf of bread filled with caraway seeds and raisins, a pitcher of milk, and a large lit candle. The door to the house was left unlatched so that Mary and Joseph, or any wandering travelers, could avail of the welcome.
The placing of a ring of holly on doors originated in
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.
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
During Penal Times there was once a plot in a village against the local soldiers. They were surrounded and were about to be ambushed when a group of wrens pecked on their drums and awakened the soldiers. The plot failed and the wren became known as 'The Devil's bird.'
On St. Stephens’s Day a procession takes place where pole with a holly bush is carried from house to house and families dress up in old clothes and with blackened faces. This practice of antiquity predates St. Patrick. In ancient times, a wren was beaten out of the bushes and its body hung on a holly bush. The killing of a bird is no longer tolerated but the door to door visits continue. Participants dress up in homemade costumes reminiscent of North American Halloween. The song they yell from house to house is called:
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
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
Or, if you’d like to try to win a copy, here’s my contest question: What are the first names of the three heroines in my Oklahoma Brides book?