Christmas as we know it today is largely a Victorian invention. Traditional yuletide celebrations during Jane Austen’s time were quite different than today, but it was still an important holiday. Part of my second Austen-inspired book, Pemberley to Waterloo, is set during Christmas at Pemberley. I was fascinated to learn more about Regency Christmas traditions.
Santa Claus as we know him today did not exist for English children during the Regency. Saint Nicholas Day was celebrated on December 6, and it was customary to exchange gifts in commemoration. But no one supposed that the gifts were actual from Saint Nicholas or that he slid down anyone’s chimney.
Jane Austen gave one of her friends a gift of a Gingham needle bag for Saint Nicholas day in 1792 and wrote this charming verse:
This little bag, I hope, will prove
To be not vainly made;
For should you thread and needles want,
It will afford you aid.
And as we are about to part,
‘Twill serve another end:
For, when you look upon this bag,
You’ll recollect your friend.
To read more of Lady Anna Elliott’s great post click on Austen Authors, for readers who need more Jane Austen!