Monday, December 31, 2012

Sometimes Backwards is the Right Way to Go--Beth Trissel

Out with the new--in with the Old. 

Hearken ye back to whatever  was right and good in your life, and reconnect, revive, resurrect. And remember those who’ve gone before you.  They had much wisdom.  
My fascination with herbs is largely prompted by my absorption with all things historic and the thrill of seeing, touching, sometimes tasting, and above all smelling the same plants known by the ancients. Herbs have changed little, if at all, over the centuries and offer us a connection with the past that precious little does in these modern days. It’s pure intoxication to rub fragrant leaves between my fingers and savor the scent while pondering the wealth of lore behind these plants.  This year consider planting an herb garden, even if it’s on your windows
I’m scheduled to give four online workshops on Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs for various groups in 2013–beginning with Savvy Authors in March. An autumn workshop for Celtic Hearts Romance Writers will focus on herbs and Lore of the British Isles. The main workshop features a broader range of  lore and peoples, including Native American. The other groups that have invited me to give a workshop are FF&P (Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal) and FTHRW (For The Heart Romance Writers).  If you’re  interested in taking part, contact me or one of these fine groups.
***Do a find for Herbal Lore on this blog and you will find much to peruse.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Beautiful Scots-Irish Healer and A White Warrior--Beth Trissel

The Rugged Alleghenies, A White Warrior, Beautiful Scots-Irish Healer, Unrequited Love—Requited, Charges of Witchcraft, Vindictive Ghost, Lost Treasure, Murderous Thieves, Deadly Pursuit, Hangman’s Noose Waiting…Kira, Daughter of the Moon

Can a beautiful Scots-Irish healer suspected of witchcraft and a renegade white warrior find love together and avoid the hangman’s noose in the Virginia Colonial frontier?

It’s a tough match with the terror of the French and Indian War still fresh in Kira’s mind, and a badass enemy and his cronies after Logan. That Logan’s old nemesis also desires Kira only makes matters that much more complicated.  But if any man is equal to the challenge, it’s Logan, and Kira has a few secret weapons of her own.

In this historical romance novel, the unique heroine, Kira McClure, is her own person at a time when women were expected to conform to societal expectations. Keeping her mouth shut, marrying young (19 was considered old for a virgin) and aligning herself to a man from a family her guardians approve (clan loyalties and resentments lingered) is not what Kira has in mind. Outspoken, independent, and odd, even intentionally so to keep unwanted suitors at bay, she hopes her girlhood crush, Shawnee captive Logan McCutcheon, will return. Plus she’s haunted by her Irish Catholic mother’s mistreatment by Protestant Scot’s settlers. Her wariness of others reaches a fever-pitch when it comes to Indian attacks. Terrified beyond all reason, according to her guardian, she has a series of hiding places near the homestead and in the surrounding woods. A nature lover, she’s also a gifted healer which sets her apart from others in the close-knit community. To some, Kira’s an angel, to others a suspected witch. And that dark cloud grows.

Logan McCutcheon first appears in historical romance novel Through the Fire as the teenage cousin of the heroine, Rebecca Elliot. Taken captive and adopted by a powerful warrior, he’s last seen reluctantly accepting his fate and yearning for freedom. Missed by his aunt (not so much by his cantankerous uncle) he returns to the settlement to discover Kira up a tree—literally. 

Taken in by his relations after she’s orphaned, Kira frustrates the Houston family at every turn in their efforts to bring her up respectably. Aunt Alice turns to Logan in desperation because he was ‘always so good with the lass.’ But Kira isn’t keen on the idea. She suspects this skilled frontiersman is actually a renegade who may betray her and the community to the Indians. Who Logan is and why he’s returned is a mystery, gradually revealed. Handsome, witty, he’s one of the most likable heroes I’ve ever written, apart from that McCutcheon temper, of course.

Logan McCutcheon returns to colonial Virginia after seven years in the hands of Shawnee Indians. But was he really a captive, as everybody thinks? He looks and fights like a warrior, and seems eager to return to those he calls friends and family.

Kira McClure has waited for Logan all those years, passing herself off as odd to keep suitors at bay––and anyone else from getting too close.  Now that he's back, he seems to be the only person capable of protecting her from the advances of Josiah Campbell and accusations of witchcraft.  And to defend the settlers against a well-organized band of murderous thieves.

Kira, Daughter of the Moon is available in print and kindle at Amazon, in print and various eBook formats at The Wild Rose Press, in Nookbook, and from other online booksellers. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My British Roots and Historical Romance Novella Into the Lion's Heart---Beth Trissel

"I simply adored INTO THE LION'S HEART by Beth Trissel. I'm not an avid reader of historical romances or even the simply sweet romances, but this tale kissed a delicate smile on my face and I have to admit, my heart melted. Not only was the writing superb and in context with the time and place, but the plot itself was very well done."
 Book Reviewed by Erinne 
"A brilliant historical romance by Beth Trissel..If you love a beautiful historical romance you will enjoy this story!
 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars Reviewer: Wanda for Romance Writer's Reviews
Regarding my historical romance novella, Into the Lion's Heart, I spent as much time researching and writing this story as I would a full novel. Partly because I'm a research nut and partly because this is the nearest I can come to time travel. I enjoy my treks into the past. In fact, the connection I feel to those who’ve gone before me is the ongoing inspiration behind all my historical romances, including the time travels in my ‘Somewhere in Time series.  I’ve done a great deal of research into family genealogy and come from well-documented English/Scots-Irish folk with a smidgen of French in the meld, a Norman knight who sailed with William the Conqueror.  How kewl is that?
One family line goes directly back to Geoffrey Chaucer.  And there’s a puritan line with involvement in the Salem Witch Trials—my apologies to Susannah Martin’s descendants–but that’s another story.  With Into the Lion’s Heart, I more deeply explored my British ancestry.
Set in 1789 England, the story opens with the hero, Captain Dalton Evans (fought in the American Revolution) journeying to Dover to meet the ship carrying a distant cousin, Mademoiselle Sophia Devereux, who’s fleeing theFrench Revolution.  '
*Pause here to note all the research the revolution took, not to mention Georgian England in general, Cornwall in particular, rum smuggling, stage-coach travel and sailing in the late 18th century….you get the idea. But I digress. Back to Dalton who’s irked with his mission, not only because he finds it tedious, but he resents the French, partly as a result of their aid to the Americans during the war and some of the Frenchmen he fought during that lost cause.  Plus he thinks French aristocrats are arrogant.  However, the young woman he rescues from the sinking ship is nothing like he expects and rocks his world.
During all the copious research, I discovered this is a fascinating time period on both sides of the channel.  I’m already hooked on The Scarlet Pimpernel, having read all the books in that series several times and watched every film version (ask about my favorites) and am drawn to other novels and productions set in this era, such as the rich epic series, Poldark–read the books and own the Masterpiece Theater production. If you never read or watched either series you've missed out big time.
As to the language ‘thing,’ my youngest daughter, Elise, a 2010 summa cum laude graduate with a double major in art and French, was a huge help with the sprinkling of French words and phrases.  And she can debate with anyone who begs to differ with her translation, why she chose a particular verb or whatever.  My French is weak, so I’m going with her and will just say it’s a beautiful language.  I hope you enjoy the story.
Blurb: As the French Revolution rages, the English nobility offer sanctuary to many a refugee. Captain Dalton Evans arrives in Dover to meet a distant cousin, expecting to see a spoiled aristocrat. Instead, he’s conquered by the simplicity of his new charge. And his best friend Thomas Archer isn’t immune to her artless charm, either.
Cecile Beaumont didn’t choose to travel across the Channel. And she certainly didn’t expect that impersonating her own mistress would introduce her to a most mesmerizing man. Now she must play out the masquerade, or risk life, freedom – and her heart.~
Into the Lion’s Heart is available at The Wild Rose PressAmazon Kindle,Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"At Christmas, All Roads Lead Home" ~Marjorie Holmes

“I have always thought of Christmas as a good time; a kind, forgiving, generous, pleasant time; a time when men and women seem to open their hearts freely, and so I say, God bless Christmas!” 
~Charles DickensQuantcast
“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” 
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Love came down at Christmas; love all lovely, love divine; love was born at Christmas, stars and angels gave the sign.” ~ Christina G. Rossetti

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."  ~Charles Dickens

“Let’s dance and sing and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.”

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day; their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the word repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men!” ~ Henry Longfellow

"Christmas is a necessity.  There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves."  ~Eric Sevareid

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” 
~ Alexander Smith

“Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence.”
~Joan Mills

'“Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.” ~ Carol Nelso
"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~Norman Vincent Peale
"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."~Roy L. Smith
"Christmas, children, is not a date.  It is a state of mind." ~Mary Ellen Chase
"Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority."~W.J. Cameron
"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other." ~Burton Hillis

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."

"There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries."
~W.J. Cameron

"The earth has grown old with its burden of care But at Christmas it always is young, The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair And its soul full of music breaks the air, When the song of angels is sung." ~ Phillips Brooks (1835-93), American Episcopal bishop, wrote 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'.

Merry Christmas. God bless us everyone!

Ghostly Time Travel Romance Novel Somewhere My Love and Hamlet--Beth Trissel

Excerpt from Somewhere My Love.

"As I read Somewhere My Love, I recalled the feelings I experienced the first time I read Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca long ago. Using the same deliciously eerie elements similar to that gothic romance, Beth Trissel has captured the haunting dangers, thrilling suspense and innocent passions that evoke the same tingly anticipation and heartfelt romance I so enjoyed then, and still do now." ~joysann for Publisher's Weekly

Julia huddled in a chair looking strained and vulnerable. She bore an unsettling resemblance to Ophelia, almost as if Shakespeare had written the lines with her in mind. If only Will could have five minutes alone with her. He’d sooth her troubled spirit, he was sure, but they hadn’t had five minutes…

His grandmother tapped her cane, her eyes  bright. She wasn’t concerned about Julia, or anyone else for that matter. Nothing and no one was paramount to her except this play, and she was single-minded about getting it off the ground. She cleared her throat. “All right, folks. Let’s begin,” she said in an unusually strong voice. “Thank you for taking part in this momentous occasion.”

A polite round of applause followed, and she paused to nod graciously before continuing. “For those of you new to the play, I will give you the setting.” Here, the old lady came into her own, bent forward, her tone filled with mystery. “Imagine if you will the handsome young prince Hamlet. His  beloved father is dead and Hamlet’s grief is black. Rather than opening with the funeral, though, we shall commence with the haunting.”

Anyone in the assembly unaware of a ghostly presence in the play perked up with interest. And everyone seemed more attentive, despite themselves, as the story teller wove on. “We shall have props later, but for now, envision this hall as a dark medieval castle in Denmark at the dead of night. Hamlet has heard his father’s spirit roams the battlement at this haunted hour. He and his friends are there watching for the royal specter. We will make do with one friend until I can recruit others.” She swept her hand at Will and one of the gardeners. “William, Dave, center stage.”

Will knew his lines but Dave, whom his grandmother had pressed into playing Horatio, held a dog-eared script in his callused hand. He bent his red neck over the pages and squinted. “Which is me, Mrs. Wentworth?”

“I’ve marked your part,” she told him. “And we’ve abbreviated the lines, a sort of condensed version.”

Shakespeare would turn in his grave at the butchering she’d done to his work, but there was nothing for it other than to enter into the spirit of the evening. Will strode to the middle of the hall, his mind only half on the play. He was suited for the part of Hamlet, though, feeling brooding enough. He glanced around as if seeing only dark battlements and rubbed his hands together, blowing on them. “‘The air bites shrewdly. It is very cold.’”

Dave nodded, his head ringed with the hat hair effect left from his gardening cap. He rubbed a grizzled chin with thick fingers, stumbling as he spoke in his Southern twang. “‘It is a nipping and an eager air.’” 
 He paused. “What does that mean?”

“He agrees with Hamlet that it’s cold,” Will explained. “My line. ‘What hour now?’”

Dave glanced at his wrist as though that would enhance the scene. “‘I think it lacks of twelve,’” he drawled.

Will shook his head at him. “No watches then, Dave.”

Their director interrupted at this point. “Let’s get on to the ghost,” Queen Nora said in her erratic manner.

Dave adopted a bug-eyed expression Will supposed was intended to mime fear and pointed shakily. “‘Look, my lord, it comes.’”

Will raised his eyes to the second floor landing where Joe, the other gardener, stood beckoning to him with white fingers. The lime dust powdering him from an application to the lawn lent some credibility to his ghostly effort, but not a lot. Will pressed his fist to his mouth, partly to keep from laughing, and then dropped his hand so as not to  muffle the words.

“‘Angels and ministers of grace defend us…be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d, bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell. Thou  comes in such a questionable shape. I’ll call thee Hamlet, King, father. What may this mean that thou should revisit us?’”

 Dave grabbed his sleeve. “‘It beckons you to go  away with it, but do not go.’”

A nice touch, Will conceded. He shook Dave off. “‘It will not speak, then I will follow it,’” he said, and left Dave to dash up the stairs.

His grandmother called out, “Skip ahead to the parts I specified!”

Will stumbled as Joe lunged at him, more in an attack mode than as a fearsome specter, and gripped his shoulders. “‘I am thy father’s spirit doomed for a certain term to walk the night and for the day confined to fast in fires,’” Joe declared in his gravelly bass voice.

Will recited his part automatically, his chief concern escaping this ape-man unscathed. Joe was a hard worker, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Moaning as though he were portraying Jacob Marley, Joe gave Will a teeth-rattling jar. “‘If thou didst ever thy dear father love—’”

“‘Oh, God,’” Will said, both as Hamlet and himself.

“‘Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder,’” Joe demanded.

“‘Murder?’” Will echoed.

Jon tightened his hold. Surely, he was the most hell-bent ghostly king any actor had ever portrayed. “‘Now, Hamlet, hear me,’” he growled, like a hit man about to eliminate him if he didn’t take heed. “‘Tis given out that sleeping in my orchard a serpent stung me. The serpent that did sting your father’s life now wears his crown.’”

“‘Oh, my prophetic soul—my uncle,’” Will said.

“‘Aye,’” Joe groaned. “‘That incestuous, adulterous beast with witchcraft of his wit and traitorous gifts. While sleeping in my orchard, my custom always in the afternoon, thy uncle stole with juice of cursed hebona in a vial and in the porches of my ears did pour the leprous distilment.’”

Joe clutched him by the throat. Was Hamlet ever so beset upon? With a credible effort at lamentation, Joe roared  in mock agony, “‘If thou hast nature in thee bear it not! Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest. As for thy mother leave her to heaven and to those thorns that in her bosom  lodge to prick and sting her. Fare thee well. Adieu, Adieu. Hamlet, remember me.’”

Joe released Will and he staggered back, gasping for breath. But the prophetic plea coupled with the warning of treachery struck him as significant. He sensed it had to do with Cole. 

Was  there something more he should do about his distant cousin? Cole had been struck down with a sword. Everyone knew that, didn’t they?

Or was there more to the story? Some crucial aspect left untold?~

***Somewhere My Love is available for only .99 in Amazon Kindle

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Was There A Fourth Wise Man? -- Beth Trissel

Fascinated by the magi?

One of my all time favorite Christmas stories is The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke.  I remember sitting in a family circle while my mom, tears in her eyes, read this timeless classic.  A soul-touching Christmas tradition. The Story of the Other Wise Man always makes me cry every time I read, or hear it. Hollywood, it's high time for a well done, true to character, production of this timeless classic. 

And I believe the story may even be true because of the amazing way it came to the author, as if sent by God. Makes me think maybe there really was another wise man.  Whether or not there was, The Magi have always intrigued me. I'd love to know more about them and suspect many of us would. "We Three Kings of Orient Are" is a most popular Christmas Carol. We could adapt that to We Four Kings...I also love the wonderful Christmas musical featuring the wise men, Amahl and the Night Visitors. Time for a remake of that one too. Again, and I can't emphasize this enough, "Well done."

But Back to story behind The Other Wise Man

From Goodreads:

“1895. American clergyman, educator, and author, Van Dyke explains the origins of the story of the Fourth Wise Man as having arrived suddenly and without labor.  

One night he saw him distinctly, moving through the shadows in a little circle of light.  His countenance was as clear as the memory of his father’s face. The narrative of his journeyings, trials, and disappointments ran without a break. Even certain sentences came complete and unforgettable, clear-cut like a cameo. All that he had to do was to follow Artaban, step by step, as the tale went on, from the beginning to the end of his pilgrimage…”

“You know the story of the Three Wise Men of the East, and how they traveled from far away to offer their gifts at the manger-cradle in Bethlehem. But have you ever heard the story of the Other Wise Man, who also saw the star in its rising, and set out to follow it, yet did not arrive with his brethren in the presence of the young child Jesus? Of the great desire of this fourth pilgrim, and how it was denied, yet accomplished in the denial; of his many wanderings and the probations of his soul; of the long way of his seeking and the strange way of his finding the One whom he sought–I would tell the tale as I have heard fragments of it in the Hall of Dreams, in the palace of the Heart of Man.”

Van Dyke goes on to weave the beautiful story of Artaban, the fourth Wise man, and how he sacrifices his every cherished gift for the Christ child in the service of mankind and, in doing so, ultimately for Christ, The message is profound and badly needed in this wounded world.~

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas is Coming, the Geese are Getting Fat--Beth Trissel

“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, please to put a penny in an old man’s hat!” 
I’ve been known to burst forth in this traditional English carol whenever it’s near enough to Christmas to warrant it. Many moons ago when my children were small, this was my cue to joyfully anticipate the coming of Christmas. I don’t know why I happened on this particular song, though it’s a favorite from past madrigals and perhaps because we have geese.

I was horrified when my mother-in-law suggested we actually eat one of our abundant flock. I never sang that song in front of her again. She tried to persuade my hubby to catch one for Christmas dinner, but he was reluctant and it didn’t ap­peal to her to scamper after them alone, so that’s how the matter was left. The geese lived to see another Christmas unmolested and we had our usual turkey, not a bird I’m the least bit sentimental about.
Eons ago when our son was in grade school and times were particularly tight, I suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to give more hand-made gifts because after all, what was Christmas all about? Wasn’t it enough to focus on the wonder and  true meaning of Christmas? To sing carols, pop popcorn, read stories, make paper chains…simplify.  In other words, “We don’t have much money, son.”
He regarded me impassively for a moment, then said, “You could get a job and we’d have more money.”
I was taken aback. “But my job is being here on the farm with you and Daddy and your sister(s).  Who would take care of you and the house and do all I do, if I weren’t here? You’d rather have Mommy here than more money for mere gifts, surely?”
He considered this reasoning, got out the calculator and the Christmas wish book and proceeded to tally up the desired items. He then presented me with his estimated cost. How I wanted to handle it was up to me, but here was his projected budget.
I cast my mind back to when I was a mere nine, sensitive, humble in my expectations and grateful for whatever I received. There was the one moment when an “Is that all?” slipped out of my mouth, but that’s the only ingratitude I can remember.
I’m glad to say my son has grown into a fine young man with a family of his own and is appreciative of all I did as his stay-at-home crazy writer/gardener mom.  All three of my children are, and now the grandbabies are excited to come visit and find me here.  Little faces light up and they toddle to me with outstretched arms or hurl themselves at me for hugs.  Precious little people.
Christmas means being with family and friends, treasuring those times, and shared traditions.   This year, more than ever, I find  comfort in the enduring truth at the heart of the season, best summed up in the ancient words of the Gospel of Luke.  “And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior  which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”
***Goose pic by my mom, our dog Mia under the Christmas tree by daughter Elise and my husband took the one of our daughter-in-law and grandbaby as Mary and baby Jesus in the Christmas program at our church several years ago. That baby is now three. And the next baby is now two.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Warrior for Christmas To Be An Audio Book--Beth Trissel

I'm psyched! The Wild Rose Press published this historical romance and are proceeding with a proposal to make it into an audio book. However, I don't know when the story will be released in this form. Meanwhile, A Warrior For Christmas is available for only 1.99 from from the Wild Rose PressKindleNookbookAll Romance eBooks, and other online booksellers.

From a review in The Wordsmith Journal Magazine:
"Beth Trissel is an award-winning author, with lots of books under her belt. This is the first book I've read that she's written, and would venture to say I'd enjoy her other historical romances, too. Her attention to detail for the period of this novella is outstanding, yet doesn't bog down the story. I especially liked that the heroine has a handicap, which makes her all the more real.

If you like sweet historical romances, you'll fall in love with A Warrior for Christmas."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Colonial American Christmas Traditions and An Early American Cookie Recipe--Beth Trissel

George Washington's Christmas list for his stepchildren in 1758 was ambitious: "A bird on Bellows, A Cuckoo, A turnabout parrot, A Grocers Shop, An Aviary, A Prussian Dragoon, A Man Smoakg, (a man smoking?) 6 Small Books for Children, 1 Fash. dress'd Baby & other toys."
Children in colonial America might be given sweets or books, but most colonists wouldn't have been this extravagant. Usually people of means gave one gift to their servants, apprentices, and children, but didn't expect anything in return. These gifts were highly treasured and as commonly exchanged on New Year's Day as on Christmas itself.
Christmas in colonial America bore faint similarity to the gala holiday we cherish today. The Puritans and Quakers (among other Protestant churches) banned celebrations altogether, claiming the holiday was popish and tied to pagan traditions. Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Lutherans introduced Christmas celebrations to colonial America, comprised of church services, dinners, dancing, visiting, and more of the same for wealthy folk.
The music featured at balls and parties was the dance music of the period, much imported from across the Atlantic. Religious carols were also sung. "Joy to the World" became popular in my home state, Virginia. "The First Noel," "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen," and "I Saw Three Ships" are several more carols still beloved today.
Rather than the fervor leading up to December 25th that dies out almost as soon as the last gift is opened now, Christmas Day in colonial America began a season of festivities that lasted until January 6—thus the "Twelve days of Christmas." Twelfth Day, January 6, was the perfect occasion for colonists to enjoy balls, parties, and other festivals.
Our emphasis on Christmas as a special holiday for children didn't come about until the mid nineteenth century, brought to America by the more family-centered Dutch and Germans. Christmas in colonial America was predominantly an adult oriented holiday. The Southern colonies were the root of many celebrations (less Quakers/Puritans in the South and more Anglicans) and these included parties, hunts, feasts, and church services. Children were tucked away in bed or left behind, neither seen or heard. One sign of entering the adult world was the honor of attending your first holiday ball. Think how exciting that must have been for young ladies awhirl in taffeta and lace.
Plantations and other colonial homes, even churches, were decorated with holly, laurel, garlands and sometimes lavender. My garden club used to decorate a colonial era home/museum and we were restricted to natural materials and native fruit like apples that might've been used in that day. Mistletoe, an ancient tradition and the centerpiece of every colonial home, was hung in a prominent place. Romantic couples found their way under the green leaves and white berries just as they do now. Light was of vital importance at this dark time of year. Yule logs blazed and candles were lit, the wealthier having more to light.
A key part of colonial Christmas celebrations were the large feasts. What foodstuffs were served and the amount set before the guests all depended on the provider's income. The menu was similar to ours. Among the offerings at a colonial dinner might be ham, roast, turkey, fish or oysters, followed by mincemeat and other pies and desserts/treats like brandied peaches.
Wines, brandy, rum punches, and other alcoholic beverages were consumed in abundance in well-to-do households. Slave owners gave out portions of liquor to their workers at Christmastime, partly as a holiday indulgence and partly to keep slaves at the home during their few days off work. Intoxicated workers were less likely to run away or make long trips to visit distant relations.
One of our most cherished traditions was unknown to colonists. The Christmas tree traveled to America from Germany in the nineteenth century. Christmas cards originated in London and didn't gain popularity until the nineteenth century. Santa Claus is a combination of Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas from Dutch and English traditions. As Americans absorbed new people and cultures, the holiday traditions expanded. Today, Christmas is an ever-changing blend of the old and new.
Our family makes these 'Early American Ginger Cutouts' from a colonial recipe I found in a cookie cookbook published back in the 1950's. With my newly discovered gluten intolerance, we will substitute Jules Gluten-Free Flour which may affect consistency and require more liquid.
Sift together dry ingredients: 2 ¾ C. flour, ½ tsp. baking soda,1 tsp. ginger, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. cloves, ½ tsp. salt
Cream together:1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar, ¾ cup dark molasses (we use Blackstrap) 1 egg beaten, 1 tsp. hot water, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Mix wet ingredients into the dry until well blended. Cover bowl and chill dough for several hours (or more). Roll on lightly floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. We press sprinkles into the dough before baking but that's a modern addition.
Enjoy this sweet spicy connection with our early American ancestors. 
***Pics of Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas (except for the gingerbread man)
(The wreath with the shoe is on the door of the shoemaker's shop)