Halloween as we know it today was not really a holiday during the Regency. 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 jack o’ 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 the evil ones out. 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 the specters and goblins away.
Carving jack o’ 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 were called jack o’ lanterns from the seventeenth century Irish legend of Shifty, or Stingy, Jack. Shifty Jack, so evil neither Heaven or Hell would take him, was doomed forever to wander the earth while carrying a lantern.The lantern was usually carved from a turnip or mangelwurzel, as pumpkins were largely unknown in Britain at the time. Since turnips and mangelwurzels are dense, not hollow like pumpkins, carving such a jack o’ lantern was quite a feat.
The beginnings of many of today’s Halloween practices existed in the Regency. If you enjoy Regency and Halloween, you might like Pumpkinnapper, my Regency Halloween comedy, with ghoulies and ghosties and a real mean goose.
Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled, and a jealous goose. Oh my!
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.
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. Oh, the things a man does for love.
“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 Baron Grey’s servants about my
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.”
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Linda Banche writes witty, sweet/sensual Regency romances with nary a rake or royal in sight. Most stories contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal or science fiction. But comedy is my love, and I’ve created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh. Like many other romance authors, I read romances for years before I wrote my own. Once I tried, I quickly discovered how difficult writing is. Did I stop? No, I’m persistent–that’s French for “too stupid to quit”.
I’m a two-time EPICON finalist, I live in New England and I like aerobics and ducks. So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.For my very latest news, here’s the link to my blog.
OTHER TITLES BY LINDA BANCHE
Thank you all,