Posts Tagged ‘Cotillion Christmas Celebrations’

Kissing under the what?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

I’ve heard of kissing under the mistletoe, and even knew that there were berries involved somewhere, but I’d never heard of a “kissing bough.”Kate Dolan learns about the Kissing Bough of mistletoeThe author of the most recent release in the Cotillion Christmas series has, however, and she’s written a post to explain the tradition. Without further ado, here is Susana Ellis, author of Twelfth Night Tale:

The Kissing Bough

In the 15th century, it became the custom to create a hoop or sphere woven from ash, willow or hazel (flexible woods that could be manipulated) and place small figures of the Christ child or the Holy Family and hang it above the inside entrance of the home. These were blessed by priests and any callers embraced under the Holy Bough to show their goodwill.

Over the decades, families would vie with each other to decorate their Bough with ribbons, gilded nuts and small apples.

The holy figures disappeared during the Reformation (due to Puritan laws and fear of fines), and were replaced by evergreens.A Kissing Bough

One tradition is that one plucks a berry from the mistletoe each time one claims a kiss, and after all the berries are gone, the game is over.

The Church tended to disapprove of things like kissing boughs and kissing under the mistletoe, no doubt because there are indications that the tradition originated with the Druids, but the tradition still continues today.


Susana credits the Christmas Archives with information for her post ( (More about mistletoe in a future post!)

Susana Ellis

Her story, Twelfth Night Tale, is the seventh in the series of Cotillion Traditional Regency romance Christmas stories for this year. The theme of this year’s series is Christmas Traditions (hence my blog posts exploring different traditions of the season) and so many authors submitted stories this year that the publisher decided to release two separate print anthologies. Twelfth Night Tale is part of the Cotillion Christmas Celebrations Collection, Kate Dolan's story Sense of the Season is in the Cotillion Christmas Celebrations collecgtionwhich was just released.

It’s the story of a wounded soldier who returns home to find the little girl next door is much more than he remembered.

Here’s more:

Without dowries and the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. But when the eldest attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, suddenly it seems as though Fate is smiling upon them.

Lucy knows that she owes it to her younger sisters to encourage Lord Bexley’s attentions, since marriage to a peer will secure their futures as well as hers. The man of her dreams has always looked like Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and, in any case, is betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to put away childhood dreams and accept reality.

Twelfth Night TaleAndrew has returned from the Peninsula with more emotional scars to deal with than just the lame arm. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend “Little Lucy” who shows him the way out of his melancholy. He can’t help noticing that Lucy’s grown up into a lovely young woman, but with an eligible viscount courting her, he’ll need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.


Like of the Cotillion Christmas stories, Twelfth Night Tale is available as a single story or as part of a print collection.

More traditions coming soon!

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Friday, November 15th, 2013

The Christmas tradition I’m featuring this week is the Christmas pudding, which figures in the newest release in the Cotillion Christmas Traditions series, Helena’s Christmas Beau. I mentioned to my husband that I had incidents with flaming Christmas puddings in my last two Christmas stories, and suddenly he started demanding that I “bring him some figgy pudding.”Christmas pudding

And I married this guy? What the heck is figgy pudding anyway?

For those of us raised to think of pudding as a little cup of Jello® blandness with the texture of baby food, a traditional English Christmas pudding is a completely foreign concept. Just forget “pudding” and think “fruitcake.” But it’s not the dried up prepackaged cake that gets re-gifted for decades. This would be a rich cake full of dried fruit and brandy or other spirits. Ugly as sin, but delicious.

And potentially dangerous. That’s because the traditional way to serve a Christmas pudding (or figgy pudding or plum pudding or whatever you want to call it) is on fire, with a sprig of holly on top.

There are traditions surrounding the making of the pudding, too. The dish was put together on “Stir-up Sunday,” which was traditionally the Sunday before Lent begins, so more than a month before Christmas. Everyone in the household was supposed to take a turn stirring the batter and to make a wish. Sometimes coins would be added, and whoever found them in his or her serving would have good luck for the year, or at least be a few coins richer. After batter was ready, it was poured into a bag and boiled for hours. Then the pudding would be taken out and hung to age for five weeks until the holidays began. The mixture kept so well, in fact, that leftovers could be saved until Easter or even the next Christmas. Maybe that’s where we get the tradition of re-gifting fruitcake.

Helena's Christmas Beau

In this week’s Cotillion Christmas Traditions release, Helena’s Christmas Beau by Aileen Fish, the heroine throws herself heart and soul into Christmas preparations like Stir-up Sunday, but the hero is, well, an anachronistic Scrooge:

Here’s the description:

Facing her second Christmas since the loss of her fiancé, Helena relies on her favorite traditions to bring back the joy of the season. Yet from stir-up day to bringing in the greenery on Christmas Eve, her cousin’s brother-in-law, Duncan, is underfoot, questioning her every action.

As Duncan plays along with the outdated rites, he realizes how much he’s missed Helena’s laughter. When he hears she plans to re-enter the Marriage Mart next spring, he is struck with jealousy. Is he falling in love, or simply under the spell of the holiday season?Aileen Fish

And here’s a little more from the author, Aileen Fish:

What inspired you to start writing? I was always writing when I was a child, and by eight or nine I had announced I wanted to do it when I grew up. When I was twelve, I heard S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders at the age of seventeen, so I started my first novel. I think I got three chapters in. It took a lot of spurts of starting and stopping before I submitted my first novel anywhere, and finally came down to seeing everyone else succeed to make me push hard enough to sell my first novella.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out? Don’t be afraid to change critique groups until you find a group you can work with. Feedback is necessary to improving your writing, but don’t let them change your voice! Write, rewrite, polish then submit.

What comes first: the plot or the characters? Each story is different. Sometimes I come up with a plot idea or a trope, then think about who would work best in this setting. My main focus at the start is the conflict. What will make it difficult for them to get together at the end? That line of thought finalizes the plot and characterization.

Thanks for reading about me and my story!


Helena’s Christmas Beau will be part of the print anthology, Cotillion Christmas Celebrations, due out December 17, along with my story, Sense of the Season, Twelfth Night Tale by Susana Ellis and last week’s release, Snug in a Snowstorm by Cynthia Moore.

Two more weeks of Christmas traditions to explore!,


The Regency equivalent to watching “A Christmas Story” over and over…

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Charades is a game I often dread playing with my family (both my daughter and my step-daughter have a maddening propensity to act out the same title over and over–or worse yet, make the rest of us act it out). But in an era before TV and movies, I probably would have resigned myself to acting out things at home on a regular basis. The game was apparently much more challenging back during the Regency era, at least in Jane Austen’s household. Her family played a version which involved writing out three riddles and acting out the answers. Each answer was a single syllable which, when put together, made a word which made it all fit together. Too much work for me!

Back in the day, the game of charades was popular at Christmas (Thanks to Linore Rose Burkard’s Regency House Christmas for sharing the Austen family version) and it’s one of the traditions included in the second release of the Cotillion Christmas Traditions series, “A Christmas Caroline,” by Vivien Jackson and Christa Paige.

On their own, they write paranormal and sci-fi and fantasy and suspense (with lots of hot cops). Together, they write in a different world entirely – it’s all about the cravats and Hessians. Polished, of course. Their story “A Christmas Caroline” comes out today. A Christmas Caroline

Here’s the blurb:

Lady Caroline Selwyn’s world centers on her father, so when she receives dire news of his health—two days before Christmas, no less—her first thought is to weep. Her second is to make this Christmastide the best he’s ever known. To that end, she rummages in memory for festive traditions, plans charades, purchases bean cakes…and acquires an affianced husband. Oh, not a real one—what she does is convince Papa’s physician to pretend an engagement, for just a few weeks.

Doctor Samuel Avery can hardly credit his complicity in this madcap deception. Whatever was he thinking? But it does seem to improve the comfort of the earl, and his own sisters are in alt at the idea of his impending nuptials. And he has admired Caroline for so long the role of her betrothed is easy to play. In fact, the scheme seems in every way perfect. Except that it is not true.

Click on the cover to learn more. And here’s the full schedule of releases for the Christmas Traditions stories. Because there are so many stories in the collection this year, they will be released as two separate print anthologies.

10/10/13: Twelve Days of Christmas, Barbara Miller

10/17/13: A Christmas Caroline, Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

10/24/13: Festive Persuasion, Charlene Roberts

10/31/13: Lydia’s Christmas Charade, Saralee Etter

11/7/13: Snug in a Snowstorm, Cynthia Moore

11/14/13: Helena’s Christmas Beau, Aileen Fish

11/21/13: A Twelfth Night Tale, Susana Ellis

11/28/13: Sense of the Season, Kate Dolan

I’d like to think they’re saving the best for last, but as I said last week, I’m pretty sure I was the last one to turn in my manuscript! The first four books will appear in print as Cotillion Christmas Traditions and the second four, including “Sense of the Season,” will be part of the Cotillion Christmas Celebrations anthology.