Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Twelve Pirate Days of Christmas

Let’s get into the holiday spirit, shall we? I give you a remake of a favorite classic Christmas carol. Sing along with me!

The Twelve Days of a Pirate Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
A fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the second day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the third day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the fourth day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the fifth day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Fiiive golden rings,
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the sixth day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Six swords a-crossing,
Fiiive golden rings,
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the seventh day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Seven sirens singing,
Six swords a-crossing,
Fiiive golden rings,
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the eighth day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Eight anchors weighing,
Seven sirens singing,
Six swords a-crossing,
Fiiive golden rings,
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the ninth day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Nine sails a-flapping,
Eight anchors weighing,
Seven sirens singing,
Six swords a-crossing,
Fiiive golden rings,
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the tenth day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Ten guns a-firing,
Nine sails a-flapping,
Eight anchors weighing,
Seven sirens singing,
Six swords a-crossing,
Fiiive golden rings,
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Eleven loyal crewmen,
Ten guns a-firing,
Nine sails a-flapping,
Eight anchors weighing,
Seven sirens singing,
Six swords a-crossing,
Fiiive golden rings,
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, a pirate gave to me
Twelve full kegs of rum,
Eleven loyal crewmen,
Ten guns a-firing,
Nine sails a-flapping,
Eight anchors weighing,
Seven sirens singing,
Six swords a-crossing,
Fiiive golden rings,
Four bags of loot,
Three black flags,
Two treasure maps
And a fine ship to sail the deep blue sea.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New year!

About the Author                                                
Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Yuletide with a Dutch Pirate

What do pirates do at Christmastime? Raid, of course.

Pirate Laurens de Graaf had himself a fine Christmas in 1683 when he raided Cartagena.

Gesel van de West
Dutch for "Scourge of the West"
Laurens Cornelis Boudewijn de Graaf (1653-1704) was a successful pirate. Hey, any day you don’t end up hanging from the gallows makes you successful. He was born in the Dutch Republic (Netherlands, today) but was kidnapped as a child by Spanish slavers and sold in the Canary Islands. Fifteen years later, de Graaf emerged a free man and soon found his calling, going on the account as a French privateer. By the 1670s, the tall, blonde, handsome de Graaf had become legendary. Even privateer—though questionable in his exploits—turned Jamaican governor Henry Morgan called him a “great and mischievous pirate”. He captured and looted a great many ships, turning some to piracy thereby growing his fleet. He had no fear in attacking a Spanish armada and was formidable at open sea battles. De Graaf and his fleet were prosperous men.

In November 1683, de Graaf and his fleet arrived off the coast of Cartagena. They dropped anchor taking a month to plan their invasion of the  city by water and by land. As you might imagine, this made the people quite uneasy. In an effort to save his town, Governor Juan de Pando Estrada commandeered three well-gunned slave ships and outfitted them with reportedly eight hundred men. On Christmas eve, they sailed out to meet with de Graaf. But alas, they were no match for the pirates. Nearly one hundred Spaniards were killed compared to the twenty pirates and the three ships fell to Dutch buccaneer.
Hunting pirates with pirates

On Christmas Day, de Graaf released many of the prisoners, sending a thank you to Governor Estrada for the Christmas presents. The port was blockaded and de Graaf ransomed the rest of the hostages.

Come January, the English offered a pardon and commission, which he declined. He had trust issues, not believing the Spanish would uphold a pardon. But he did sail away from Cartagena without further incident.

Laurens de Graaf continued on with his fortuitous and colorful life, earning him respect on both sides of the law.

Since it is the holidays, treat yourself to a free e-book, just by signing up for my newsletter.

About the Author

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Traditions in Imperial Russia by Ally Broadfield

Welcome to History Undressed, guest blogger, Ally Broadfield! She's here today to spread some Christmas cheer and talk to us a bit about Christmas traditions in Russia. Enjoy!

Christmas Traditions in Imperial Russia

by Ally Broadfield

Christmas in Imperial Russia was celebrated with a blend of traditions from Russia’s Christian and pre-Christian past. On Christmas Eve it was customary for groups of people masquerading as manger animals to travel from house to house performing and singing carols known as kolyadki. Somekolyadki were pastoral carols to the baby Jesus, while others were homages to the ancient solar goddess Kolyada, who brought the lengthening days of sunlight through the winter. In return for their songs, the singers were offered food and coins before moving on to the next home. There is a passage in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace describing this custom, known as mumming. Everyone participated in the mumming. In the 17th century, the tsar himself, followed by his boyars and courtiers and led by drummers, would travel by sleigh from house to house in Moscow to sing for the owners. Peter the Great was also known to congratulate his friends in this manner, but he kept a list of participants and those who did not join were punished.


Happy Christmas (pre-1917 Russian postcard)
Religious observances surrounding Christmas also flourished in Imperial Russia. Though the foods and customs surrounding the observance of Christmas differed from village to village and family to family, certain aspects remained the same. Christmas Eve was the last day of the six week Christmas fast, and for the devout, ancient custom dictated that no one eat until the first star shone in the sky. Hay was spread on the table and covered with a white cloth in imitation of the manger. Dinner began with a prayer for the New Year and a special porridge called kutya. The head of the household would throw a spoonful outside to encourage Grandfather Frost to spare the crops, then a spoonful was thrown up on the ceiling. The grains that stuck foretold the number of bees there would be in summer to ensure a plentiful honey harvest. Lastly, upon rising from the table, everyone left some kutya in their bowls for their departed relatives.



After the meal it was time to attend the Christmas Mass. On Christmas day, it was customary for everyone to dress in their finest clothes and go visiting. Tables were spread in a traditional manner with a variety of nuts and fruits, as well as several types of special gingerbread cookies. The two-week feast known as Russian Christmastide, or Svyatki, was celebrated after the orthodox Christmas on January 7th through Epiphany on January 19th. Activities during this period were more closely associated with pagan traditions and included singing, dancing, carnivals and fortune telling.

After the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia along with other religious celebrations. It wasn’t until 75 years later, in 1992, that the holiday was once again openly observed.

Bibliography: Massie, Suzanne. The Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1980.


Ally Broadfield lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, five dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and several reptiles. Oh, and her husband. She likes to curse in Russian and spends most of her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She writes historical romance and middle grade/young adult fantasy. Her first book, Just a Kiss, is coming from Entangled Publishing in January 2014.
You can find Ally on her website, Facebook, and Twitter (though she makes no claims of using any of them properly).



Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Twas the Fright Before Christmas by Kate Dolan

 Today I'd like to welcome Kate Dolan back to History Undressed! She's written a fun post today about Christmas and ghosties... Enjoy!


Twas the Fright Before Christmas

by Kate Dolan


Most people these days associate scary tales of the supernatural with Halloween, not Christmas.  Oh, there are usually a few haunted gingerbread houses at the annual  "Festival of Trees" because of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, and this year I saw a zombie-themed Christmas tree, but generally our modern interpretation of the holiday is jolly elves and smiling gingerbread men.

That was not always the case.

The church designated the celebration of the nativity to occur during the shortest, darkest coldest days of the year not because clerics thought Jesus was actually born in December but because pagans already celebrated a number of holidays around the winter solstice and overlaying the Christian holiday on top of a pagan festival made it easier to keep converts from backsliding.

The winter solstice is a time of cold deadly fear reaching back into the collective unconscious of mankind's earliest days. It taps into our deepest, darkest terrors. What if the sun doesn't come back? What if we remain in a perpetual state of chill, darkness and hunger, just a hair's breadth away from the cold finality of the grave?

A great time to celebrate, right?

I assume the celebrations started as a way to triumph humanity's power of the intellect over the power of our fears. We know that once we've reached the solstice, the worst is behind us. Each day from then on the sunlight will grow stronger and the earth will come back to life. We have faith in our future.

So we can tell ourselves things will get better and we can stage a celebration. But deep down, we are still mourning the loss of light and life.

It is a natural time for telling scary stories of spirits roaming the earth during the long dark nights. The cycle of work which demanded grueling days of hard labor during planting and harvest seasons left little to do during the winter months. People huddled inside and told stories to while away the hours. And very often they were scary stories.

These were sometimes called "winter tales," a term which eventually became synonymous with "old wives tales" of the fantastical and this is why Shakespeare named his tale of a statue coming to life A Winter's Tale. In the beginning of the play ,the character Prince Mamillius proposes to tell a story and suggests "A sad tale's best for winter:  I have one/Of sprites and goblins…"

Unfortunately, most of these tales have been lost and scholars conjecture even how the prince's tale ends. 

One scary legend we do know a little about comes from the Germans and it is about "der Belznickel," the Christmas demon.  He's sort of the evil twin of Santa Claus. Often said to visit on the eve of St. Nicholas Day (December 6), he comes not to reward the good but to punish the bad. He carries a switch to whip misbehaving children and chains to tie them up. In short, he is not a good role model  for positive discipline practices. Like St. Nick, he is often said to dress in clothes trimmed with fur, but they are ragged and black. He sometimes has goat horns reminiscent of the devil, and glowing red eyes.  Tales of this "Anti-Claus" inspired me to write my first ghost story, "Bride of Belznickel," which was released in anthology of Christmas paranormal tales a few years ago and has just recently come out as a standalone ebook.

Some have argued that the tradition of telling winter tales died out and was not revived until the early 19th Century.  I disagree.  I have no evidence whatsoever, but I suspect that at least in some places, the tradition continued simply because the pattern of life continued. It was not until industry drew workers to the cities and gaslight extended the working day that  people lost the long idle storytelling hours of winter.

But regardless of whether the tradition carried through or was re-started by the Victorians, there is no doubt that ghost stories, including several by Charles Dickens, made up a key component of their celebrations. "It is quite unnecessary to mention the date at all," Jerome K. Jerome explains in his introduction to Told After Supper, a collection of Christmas ghost stories published in 1891. "The experienced reader knows it was Christmas Eve, without my telling him.  It always is Christmas Eve, in a ghost story. Christmas Eve is the ghosts' great gala night."

Jack Skellington tried to tell us that when he urged the ghoulish characters of Halloween Town to take over Christmas.  Not everyone was ready to listen, but with sightings of zombie Christmas trees on the rise, who knows? Maybe we are ready again to wish each other a Very Scary Christmas.
_________________________________________
Told After Supper is available free online through Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=1447582)


Kate Dolan writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary mysteries and children’s books under the name K.D. Hays. You can learn more about her misadventures with history by visiting www.katedolan.com.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Scottish Christmas by Sky Purrington

Today I'm excited to welcome guest author Sky Purrington to History Undresed! She has a special holiday treat for us--a bit of history on Christmas in Scotland. Enjoy and happy holidays!


A Scottish Christmas
by Sky Purrington

Hi Everyone! I’m thrilled to be visiting Eliza Knight’s, History Undressed blog. I hope that everyone is enjoying their holiday season so far. It’s hard to believe that Santa will be coming down the ol’ chimney in a few short days.
For those of you unfamiliar, I write a cross genre of paranormal and fantasy romance. While I have titles covering everything from vampires to ghost hunters, by far my favorite works include those written about time-traveling Highlanders. Like Eliza, I’m crazy about history, especially Scottish history. I suppose that’s why I can’t sit still in one time period.
Before I go any further I’d like to host a Christmas contest. One lucky commenter will win an E-bundle of my ‘The MacLomain Series’ This includes one short story and three full novels. Prize will be either offered in E-book fashion or can be ‘gifted’ straight to your Amazon Kindle.
I thought for this visit to keep in Yuletide form and share some age old Scottish Christmas history and traditions. When I did a little extra research for this blog post I discovered something interesting, and a little sad.
Christmas was banned in Scotland for FOUR HUNDRED years!
According to Rampant Scotland.com , “After the Church Reformation in the 16th century, the celebration of Christmas was frowned on by the Kirk, which regarded it as a "Popish festival". Mass was banned in Scotland at that time and "Christmas" or "Christ's Mass" was included in that. There are records of charges being brought against people for keeping "Yule" as it was called in Scotland. Amazingly, this dour, joy-crushing attitude lasted for 400 years. Until the 1960s, Christmas Day was a normal working day for most people in Scotland.”
Oh, religion does have a way of changing the rules on occasion, doesn’t it? In the MacLomain Series, my Highlanders accept both the old pagan ways as well as embrace the new God so there’s no stress in my medieval clan! Then again, they’re wizards. I suppose magic helps smooth things out. *winks*
So let’s talk first about pre-400 years of no Christmas. Those were the glorious days when the Yuletide celebrations lasted from December 25th to January 6th. The Scots word "Yule" comes from the Old Norse "jól, which was a midwinter pagan celebration of the winter solstice.
Believe it or not, the celebrations are the direct results of the Vikings when they first came to Scotland. They were all about celebrating conquest and plunder. However, their original version of this mid-winter festival lasted a whopping twenty-four days. Yep, those boys knew how to party! Naturally, the overindulgence launched a mammoth feast on the eve of Yule.
According to Friends of Scotland.gov.uk, “The Vikings stuffed their faces with vast quantities of food and drink after which they stumbled off into the winter night to light a huge bonfire in the goddess’ honour. Today, fire and light plays a major part in Yule celebrations in many areas of Scotland from Biggar to Shetland.
When William of Normandy conquered England in 1066 the English Princess Margaret fled north and was shipwrecked on the Scottish coast. Her Christian influence helped turn the previously pagan Yuletide season into a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.”
Some fun facts…
~Many ancient superstitions and rites held significance for Scots during the Middle Ages. For example, decorating houses with evergreen trees and mistletoe. Our modern trees are newer versions of this ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represented a celebration of the renewal of life, while Celtic peoples long considered mistletoe to have magic powers. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility.
~In Scotland a sprig of mistletoe continues to be hung from ceilings and in doorways to bring luck and ward off evil spirits. Kisses are welcome too!
~Christmas cards are said to have been invented in Edinburgh, Scotland in the mid-nineteenth century.
The history of Christmas in Scotland is rich and closely tied with many of the traditions of England, especially in more modern times. But some are unique to Scotland. Many households decorate their evergreen (particularly holly) with strips of their tartan. Also, it’s a ‘must’ to have a short bread on your holiday table, whether it be Scottish Black Pun, Dundee Cake, Scottish Shortbread (bannock) or Maisie Magennis Dumpling.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about Scotland at Christmas, History Undressed. Though Christmas wasn’t directly at the heart of it, I spent several years researching and writing about Scotland. To this day, no country has touched my heart like she has. If you enjoy Scottish time-travel, my ‘The MacLomain Series’ is currently being offered at .99 CENTS PER NOVEL for a limited time. Though The King’s Druidess (shorter tale) leads out the pack, I thought to share the blurb from Fate’s Monolith (The MacLomain Series- Book 1).
Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday Season!
Best Regards,
Sky
A bit about Fate’s Monolith
Arianna Broun, a Scottish born colonial American has been haunted by the reoccurring dream of a phantom Scottish warrior. Her infatuation with the dream intensifies until All Hallows' Eve, when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. After several bizarre encounters she runs to her safe haven deep in the woods. When dawn comes too early, Arianna is eager to go home. But fate has other plans.
Laird Iain MacLomain has long awaited the arrival of his promised bride. She claims to not be the woman intended for him but she fits the description given him of her, all fire and defiance. That defiance will end up costing them everything and rips them apart. However, a Scottish Chieftain with magic at his disposal is capable of most anything. Will he hold Arianna in his arms again or is she lost to him forever? Only time will tell.
The MacLomain Series is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Learn more about Sky Purington at her Website