Images and customs
One of the perennial symbols of Christmas and New Year are church bells. Images of bells appear in Christmas card designs and as Christmas decorations, and the sound of bells forms part of many television and radio programmes (and, of course, advertising). For centuries, bells were sounded to welcome in Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and in 1824 the Gentleman’s Magazine reported the ringing of Christmas bells in Yorkshire:
‘Christmas-eve is, in Yorkshire, celebrated in a peculiar manner. At eight o’clock in the evening, the bells greet “old father Christmas” with a merry peal, the children parade the streets with drums, trumpets, bells, or perhaps, in their absence, with the poker and shovel, taken from their humble cottage fire; the Yule candle is lighted.’
This custom was probably thought worth noting because it was different to the practice of Continue reading
TWO CENTURIES AGO
The striking circumstance about Christmas two centuries ago is what was missing – no Christmas trees, no decorations apart from some holly and ivy, no Christmas cards, no Christmas cake, no Christmas crackers, no Christmas pudding – apart from plum pudding. This was mainly a time for giving charitable gifts. Jane Austen and her contemporaries would not recognise today’s huge commercial Christmas. But if we try to imagine her being teleported into today’s world, then after recovering from the shock, surely she would approve of books being given as gifts? Books were then very expensive – Emma was originally published in three volumes costing one pound and one shilling (£1 1s), about a month’s wage for an agricultural labourer or servant. Today, Emma can be purchased for the price of a cup of coffee.
WHAT TO BUY?
What Jane Austen would find totally unbelievable is that not only are her own books available to buy some two centuries later, but also numerous books about her and her era. By now, you would imagine Continue reading