Sunday, November 20, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, All!



All cultures have harvest festivals. The United States harvest festival is Thanksgiving, now celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Our current Thanksgiving dates from 1621. Two years after their 1619 landing in the New World, the Pilgrims in Plymouth in the Massachusetts Bay Colony held a feast to celebrate their first good harvest. Strictly speaking, this celebration was not the first one. Settlers in Virginia and the Spanish explorers in Texas held harvest/thanksgiving celebrations earlier.

The actual date for Thanksgiving has varied through the years. Since Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, the day generally occurred in October or November. Each state set its own date until 1863, when, by presidential proclamation, all the states celebrated Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November. But November can have four or five Thursdays, so Thanksgiving remained a moveable holiday until 1941, when federal legislation fixed it at the fourth Thursday in November.

Now for some Thanksgiving quotes:

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.
O. Henry

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
Native American Saying

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
Author Unknown

And my favorite quote, which I saw in a Thanksgiving greeting card:

"Thanksgiving--the one day in the year we give thanks for turkeys."

Gobble, gobble.

Thank you all,
Linda

The picture is "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe. From Wikipedia

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pumpkins and Jack o' Lanterns






What's Halloween without pumpkins?

I love pumpkins!

Those usually orange squash piled high in grocery stores and farm stands this time of year. Large, small, rounded, not-so-round, orange, yellow, white and striped. There are all kinds of pumpkins. Some you can eat, some are for show, but they're all pumpkins, and they all say fall. In the form of jack o'-lanterns, they also say Halloween.

Although pumpkins are native to the Americas, their usage in Halloween traditions originated in Great Britain. Lighted vegetable lanterns have long been part of Britain's harvest festivals. The vegetables most often used were turnips and mangelwurzels, which are relatively small, solid and hard to cut. Columbus introduced to Europe many of the Americas' plants and animals, pumpkins among them. Called pompions in Tudor England, pumpkins made their way to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Since pumpkins are hollow and easy to carve, they replaced the turnips and mangelwurzels as the vegetable of choice for harvest lanterns.

"Jack o'-lantern" itself is an English term originating in East Anglia in the 1660's, and meant a night watchman or a man who carried a lantern. Later the phrase attached itself to the ignis fatuus, or will-o'-the-wisp, a bobbing sphere of marsh gas ignited by spontaneous combustion. Not until 1837 did its modern usage of "vegetable lantern" arise.

The Irish legend of Shifty Jack adds a layer of Halloween evil to the various meanings of  the jack o'lantern.

Shifty, or Stingy, Jack was an Irish blacksmith who used a cross to trap the Devil up a tree. Jack refused to let him down until the Devil promised not to take him to Hell. Secure in the knowledge he would never burn in Hell, Jack wasted his life in sin. But when he died, God denied him entrance to Heaven. With nowhere else to go, Jack implored the Devil to take him in. The Devil, abiding by his promise, refused, condemning Jack forever to walk the earth. But the Devil gave him a hell-coal to light his way, which Jack secured in a vegetable lantern. Jack's bobbing light as he wanders is a Halloween reminder of the wages of sin.

Pumpkinnapper, my Regency Halloween comedy, incorporates pumpkins, bobbing lights and geese (yes, geese) that go bump in the night into the story of a pumpkin kidnapper, or pumpkin thief.


BLURB:
Let me tell you a tale of a love triangle: man, woman and goose. Join the fowl frolic as Henry the man and Henry the goose spar over heroine Emily's affections while they try to capture the foul (or is it fowl?) pumpkin thieves.

Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled and a jealous goose. Oh my!

Last night someone tried to steal the widowed Mrs. Emily Metcalfe's pumpkins. She's certain the culprit is her old childhood nemesis and the secret love of her youth, Henry, nicknamed Hank, whom she hasn't seen in ten years.

Henry, Baron Grey, who's never forgotten the girl he loved but couldn't pursue so long ago, decides to catch Emily's would-be thief. Even after she reveals his childhood nickname--the one he would rather forget. And even after her jealous pet goose bites him in an embarrassing place.

The things a man does for love.

EXCERPT:

"Emily, even with Henry, formidable as he is--" Hank glared at the goose. The goose glared back "--you need protection. I will send over some footmen to guard the place."

"No. Turnip Cottage belongs to Charlotte's husband. What will the townspeople think, with Lord Grey's servants about my house?"

Her refusal increased his fury. The sight of her hand on that damned goose's head didn't improve his mood, either. He balled his fists as his patience thinned and something else thickened. "I'll find you a guard dog. You must have some protection out here all alone."

"But I have Henry." She patted the goose's head and the bird snuggled into her hand. Again.

Heat flooded Hank, part desire for Emily's touch, and part desire to murder that damned goose, who was where he wanted to be. His insides groaned. "Very well, then, you leave me no choice. I will help you catch the culprits."

"But--"

He changed his voice to the voice that either melted a woman or earned him a slap in the face. "Who knows, mayhap we would enjoy ourselves as I lie in wait with you." I would love to lie with you.

Her eyes widened. Had she understood the innuendo?

"I cannot stay alone with you, and you know it," she said, her voice severe.

"You are a widow in your own home and no one will see. I will make sure of it."

"No." She marched back into her cottage and slammed the door. Henry smirked and waddled away.

Hank grinned. He would be back, whether she liked it or not.
 

All reviews are here.

 PUMPKINNAPPER is available at:




Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1zOJthM


The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/2e5yOeC

All Romance eBooks: http://bit.ly/1AHGOud



Thank you all and Happy Halloween.
Linda

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Halloween During the Regency





October is upon us, the month of ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night.

Since I write Regency, how did they celebrate Halloween in the Regency?

Than answer is: They didn’t.

On October 31, the Celts celebrated Samhain, a harvest festival which contained some elements of a festival of the dead. The Christian religion attempted to neutralize the pagan Samhain by combining it with Christian holy days. November 1 was All Saints' Day, or All Hallows Day, so October 31 became All Hallows' Eve.

By the Regency, All Hallows' Eve was mainly a rural festival, rarely noticed in the cities. Elements of Samhain remained in the customs of guising, lighting bonfires, and carving vegetable lanterns.

On Samhain, the barriers between the real world and the supernatural world thinned, allowing the dead, as well as evil spirits, to walk the earth. People left their doors open to welcome the ghosts of their ancestors inside, while at the same time keeping out the evil ones. An associate custom was guising, in which people dressed as ghouls. By blending in with the demons, they avoided them.
Bonfires were also popular on All Hallows' Eve. The fires lit the way to the afterworld of relatives who had died during the past year. They also scared away the specters and goblins.

Carving vegetable lanterns was another custom. Believing the "head" of a vegetable its most potent part, the Celts carved vegetables into heads with faces to scare away supernatural beings. By Regency times, these lighted vegetables became associated with the seventeenth century Irish legend of Shifty or Stingy, Jack. Shifty Jack, so evil neither Heaven or Hell would have him, was doomed forever to wander the earth while carrying a lantern.
The lantern was usually carved from a turnip or mangelwurzel, both of which are hard and dense. With the introduction of  the hollow pumpkin from the New World during Tudor times, the easier-to-cut pumpkin became the vegetable of choice for these lanterns. A traditional carved turnip is at the right.

At the time, "jack o lantern" meant a night-watchman or a will-o-the-wisp. "Jack o' lantern", meaning a vegetable lantern, is an Americanism that came into use around 1834.

In Ireland, bobbing for apples is called "snap apple".  Snap Apple Night became a synonym for Halloween in Ireland, Labrador and Newfoundland.

All customs evolve, but we can see the beginnings of many of today's Halloween practices in the Regency.

If you enjoy Regency and Halloween, you might like Pumpkinnapper, my Regency Halloween romantic comedy and 2011 EPIC eBook Competition finalist,

Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled, and a jealous goose. Oh my!

And what's a pumpkinnapper? A pumpkinnapper is a pumpkin kidnapper, or pumpkin thief, fitting for my story of someone who wants to steal the heroine's pumpkins. She thinks the culprit is the hero, but he's not. And then there's her pet goose, who hates the hero. Lots of Halloween fun.

Blurb and excerpt here: http://www.lindabanche.com/1352.html

Available at:

Amazon: http://getbook.at/Pump

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1zOJthM



Kobo: http://bit.ly/1AW27XM


All Romance Ebooks: http://bit.ly/1AHGOud

The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/1LYMKRm 

Happy Halloween!

Thank you all,
Linda
The top picture is Snap-Apple Night, painted by Irish artist Daniel Maclise in 1833, of a Halloween party he attended in Blarney, Ireland in 1832. From Wikipedia.

The second picture is a traditional Irish Jack-o'-Lantern in the Museum of Country Life, Ireland. From Wikipedia.