Gina Conkle | Meet the Earl at Midnight
December 18, 2013
As a writer of historical romance (in particular, Vikings and Georgian England),
I like to look at how other times and places celebrate Christmas. Of all the
nations, Iceland turns up as one very unique place.
They have a curious blend of religious practices mixed with traditional folklore.
Nowadays, most Icelanders enjoy a Christmas
similar to other modern nations: good food and sharing gifts with friends and
family. But, there's another side to Iceland that lingers.
They celebrate Icelandic Christmas from December 23 and end with "Epiphany" on
January 6 with some interesting twists. Unlike other nations which have a Father
Christmas/Santa Claus figure in their lore, Icelandic children grow up hearing
tales of a motley crew of "Yule Lads."
You probably heard "Frosty the Snowman" or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
stories growing up, but Icelandic children learn of a mountain ogress, Gryla,
who mothered 13 rascally "Yule Lads." Keep in mind Gryla's not your sweet Mrs.
Santa Claus type: she's part troll, part animal, and she lives high in Iceland's
mountains with her black cat.
And her specialty?
Gryla comes down during Christmas, hunting for
misbehaving boys and girls to boil in her cauldron. Yikes! Gryla can only take
the "bad" kids. If those children show remorse for their errant ways, she HAS to
let them go. Sounds to me like Icelandic parents clamping down on naughtiness…a
lot scarier than Santa’s naughty or nice list.
But, yes, there's a nice flip side to the tradition.
Instead of stockings hung with care over the fireplace, Icelandic children put a
shoe by their bedroom window for 13 nights. Those Yule Lads spread joy by
putting candy or small gifts in the shoes of "good" kids and rotting potatoes in
the shoes of "bad" kids. At least the Yule Lads don't mess with boiling cauldrons.
The last unique tradition is Iceland's "Christmas Cat." Folklore decrees that
each Icelander must receive a new article of clothing for Christmas, or they'll
be in terrible danger. Really, I think an Icelandic grandma started this one
just to make sure her loved ones wore the "attractive" sweater she knitted for
them. Call this the "wear-the-sweater-or-get-eaten-by-Christmas-Cat" tradition.
Now, it's your turn. Share a Christmas tradition or funky gift that stands out
in your family lore. I'd love to know!! And thanks for stopping by-
A deadline looms for Lord Edward Sanford, Earl of Greenwich. He needs an
heir quickly. The hasty offering of Lydia Montgomery, an on-the-shelf woman,
works. But, Lydia has plans of her own, secret plans that don't involve a man.
Their agreement, forged in moonlight, soon changes in the light of day. Edward
discovers Lydia's a woman with a past, which only adds to their distracting
chemistry. Even worse, the impertinent woman insinuates herself in his
scientific work: the domain where no woman should mix. Lydia's diagrams and
illustrations speak volumes...of his work to the outside world and hers to
London's art world - a place reserved for men only. But, new found fame makes a
tangled mess. Will their greatest discovery be each other before time runs out?
12 comments posted.
Re: Gina Conkle | Meet the Earl at Midnight
The one tradition we had every year was my Mom baking her famous Christmas cookies. They were very time consuming, considering this recipe, which had been passed down to her, took 2 days to make!! When I got to be old enough, I would help her make them, and once she came down with Alzheimer's, I continued to bake them, and I still bake them to this day, and pass some of them around to family and friends for the Holidays. It has now become my tradition, even though I unfortunately don't have children of my own, but consider it to be my "heavenly" bond with my Mom every year. I also enjoy making them, unlike my lazy Sisters!! lol Have a wonderful Christmas, and a Happy New Year!!
(Peggy Roberson 7:57am December 18, 2013)
My Mom always started baking a lot of different Christmas cookies in mid November and hiding them all over the house. Now the only cookie we still make is chocolate chip cookies, which was always our favorite. As we open our presents we are also eating these cookies.
(Carol Woodruff 11:02am December 18, 2013)
Hi Peggy and Carol,
How sweet to carry on the cookie tradition from your moms.
My mom's big thing was to put the tree up the Saturday after
Thanksgiving. Sometimes she'd bake, sometimes she didn't.
But, we could always count on a month of Christmas tree
lights and festive decor. Even with all the kids grown, she
still does this. I like the tradition the two of you are
doing: yummy cookies!! Makes me want to bake something. :-)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
(Gina Conkle 1:23pm December 18, 2013)
My mom would always make a turkey salad for Christmas. She no
longer does it but my sisters still do. This makes me wonder
if I should start a tradition with my children too. Cookies
sound like a great idea!
(Alyn Yang 9:29pm December 18, 2013)
It's not weird to me or to most of the people on this blog,
but every Christmas there was at least one book in our
stockings. Some of my friends thought it was totally bizarre
that I was thrilled.
Santa has continued that tradition with my kids.
(Glenda Martillotti 12:53pm December 19, 2013)
A tradition I have carried down to my children and now grand-child is to go look at Christmas tree lights on Christmas Eve.
(Denise Austin 1:26pm December 19, 2013)
Best thing about Christmas Eve was attending the church service and then coming home and opening ONE gift and then packing the kids off to bed and putting out the presents. Sometimes we would share a meal with other family members first, sometimes we would celebrate with friends after, but it always starts with the service at church.
(Marcia Berbeza 10:07pm December 19, 2013)
One tradition we have is to hand the gifts out one at a time, allowing each to be enjoyed by everyone before the next one is opened.
(Janie McGaugh 12:21pm December 20, 2013)
We would always drive around the surrounding area and enjoy the holiday lights and decorations!
(Cate Sparks 6:03am December 20, 2013)
My sister and I send the same card every year. It's not signed. It really started out as a joke. Years ago I received a beautiful card with no name--she forgot to sign it. This year I put it in a large envelope and sent it to her family. Next year she will send it back to me. This has been going on for about twenty-five years. Merry Christmas!!
(Sharon Extine 1:08pm December 20, 2013)
Best wishes for a Merry Christmas! The one tradition our family has is for the youngest person in attendance put the star on top of our Christmas tree! We started doing it the year my older son was born (December 6th) because we were so excited he was finally home with us. He had been born prematurely by two weeks (but weighed in at 9 lbs. 9 oz.) and had a problem with his lungs when he was born so had to stay in the hospital for a while. Don't worry - this year he celebrated his 41st birthday and is over 6 feet tall (to my 5 feet, 2 inches!). We still have the picture I took showing my husband lifting him up and "helping" him with the star!
The only problem we ever had was when my younger son (who wasn't expected to make it) showed up on the doorstep (thanks to a friend giving him a ride from Charleston, SC were he was going to The Citadel after his flight was cancelled because of a snow storm at secondary designation) just in time to put the star on the tree! I have a picture that year of him tipping the tree over (he takes after be and is "under-tall" at least compared to my husband and other son!
Even after all these years we still laugh every Christmas Eve when the star is going up! Yes, both my sons have carried on our tradition and we always enjoy seeing our youngest grandchild putting the star up to celebrate the holiday!
(Jeanne Miro 10:10pm December 22, 2013)
My mother usually has me wrap the gifts so every year since
I was 6 she has tried to keep one of my gifts aside so that
she can surprise me. And every year she forgets where she
puts it so when my birthday comes around I get the gift from
christmas as a bonus. One year she actually rememebered
where she put the gift and put in ON the tree half wrapped
in christmas paper and half in birthday paper.
(Tina Ullrich 6:01pm December 29, 2013)
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