Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Post by Meredith Allard, Author of Christmas at Hembry Castle

8 December 2021

Special Guest Post by Meredith Allard, Author of Christmas at Hembry Castle

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An unlikely earl struggles with his new place. A young couple’s love is tested. What is a med-dling ghost to do? In the tradition of A Christmas Carol, travel back to Victorian England and enjoy a lighthearted, festive holiday celebration.

Thanks to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, many of us have a specific vision when we refer to the perfect Christmas. In fact, most of our Christmas traditions originated or were revived during the Victorian era.

Queen Victoria’s German-born husband, Prince Albert, brought many of his childhood Christmas traditions with him to England, including the Christmas tree.  According to the BBC’s Christmas website, in 1848, the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal family’s Christmas tree; after that, every English home had a tree decorated with candles, sweets, fruit, homemade decorations, and small gifts. 

Prior to the popularization of Christmas trees, in 1843, the first Christmas card was designed featuring an illustration of people seated around a dinner table, ready for a feast, of course. The cards cost one shilling apiece, too expensive for most Victorians, so children, including the Queen’s children, were encouraged to make their own cards.  

Even traditions like hanging mistletoe became popular during the Victorian era. In a time when rules of etiquette were so important, and when there were only certain ways men and women could interact socially, stealing a kiss under the mistletoe was considered entirely proper. Christmas crackers also became popular during this time, though instead of featuring the paper crowns and trinkets we find today, during the Victorian era the crackers were filled with bon-bons, sweets of sugar-coated almonds. The use of holly and ivy to celebrate midwinter stems as far back as the time of the Anglo-Saxons, and the practice was revived during the Victorian era.  

Christmas caroling gained in popularity, and most of the Christmas carols we know today were sung during the Victorian era. According to Christmas Traditions in the Victorian Era, the Victorians loved music and often played instruments and sang at home for entertainment. During the Victorian era they revived Medieval carols and created new ones. The lyrics for one of the most famous Christmas carols of all time, “Silent Night,” was written in German and first performed in Austria in 1818. Other popular carols from the time included “O Christmas Tree,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Deck the Halls.”

A Christmas Carol was published on December 19, 1843. That one short story (it’s only 30,000 words) has given us our idealized image of what Christmas could be. Christmas, according to Dickens, was a time for family and a festive meal—recall the Cratchits’ meager fare, yet they still had a lovely celebration because they were together as a family. Christmas was a time for games and dances and smoking bishop. Perhaps most importantly, Christmas was a time for charity, when those with means should be generous towards those without.

Dickens himself loved the holiday, and according to one of his sons, Christmas was “a great time, a really jovial time, and my father was always at his best, a splendid host, bright and jolly as a boy and throwing his heart and soul into everything that was going on…And then the dance! There was no stopping him!” (Allingham, P.V., Dickens the man who invented Christmas).

I had great fun exploring some of these beloved Victorian Christmas traditions while writing Christmas at Hembry Castle. Even more, I loved putting my own spin on A Christmas Carol, one of my favorite Dickens tales. 

Meredith Allard

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About the Author

Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling paranormal historical Loving Husband Trilogy. Her sweet Victorian romance, When It Rained at Hembry Castle, was named a best historical novel by IndieReader. Her latest book, Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction, was named a #1 new release in Authorship and Creativity Self-Help on Amazon. When she isn’t writing she’s teaching writing, and she has taught writing to students ages five to 75. She loves books, cats, and coffee, though not always in that order. She lives in Las Vegas, Ne-vada. Find our more at and find Meredith on Facebook


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