I know I'm not alone when I say the holidays are my favorite time of year. There's so much to love: the scent of fir trees and cinnamon in the air, the Christmas carols on the radio, the cheerful gatherings of friends and family.
For me, the connection between many Christmas traditions and the Victorian era makes it especially sweet.
In historical romance, the Regency era often takes precedence. But there's something about the Victorian era that captivates me. It was such an exciting time. Industry and innovation were changing the world in remarkable ways. Machines were revolutionizing work on the farm and at home, as well as spawning factories that would transform the work force.
I love the exuberance and the optimism that came with all the new inventions. What I don't like so well were the pervasive social restrictions on women, but I believe there were feisty females who thrived even under those trying circumstances. I've written about a few of them in my novels, THE BELLY DANCER and DANCING AT THE CHANCE.
And when it comes to Christmas, the Victorians set the standard. According to Historic-UK.com, it was during Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) that Britons, and subsequently Americans, first discovered Santa Claus, received time off work to celebrate, hung Christmas stockings and sent Christmas cards.
Queen Victoria also popularized the Christmas tree, which had been a mostly German tradition and much loved by the Queen's German husband, Prince Albert.
Decorating the Christmas tree is the tradition I love best because each ornament is like a crucible of memories. I love taking my time unwrapping them, and then placing them in just the perfect spot on the tree. And it's always a tradition in our house to add a new ornament to the collection each year, one that reflects a special moment like our wedding day or the birth of our daughter. I love knowing that all these memories are close as we celebrate this wonderful time of year.
Do you have a favorite tradition, too? I'd love to hear about it. Please share it in the comments section.
DeAnna Cameron is a history buff, bustle lover, and author of two romantic historicals set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras: THE BELLY DANCER and DANCING AT THE CHANCE. Learn more at www.deannacameron.com.