For Auld Lang Syne, My Dear

Happy New Year

It’s New Year’s Eve and it seems we’re all experiencing a bit of “Cinderella Syndrome”… We have up until midnight before 2012’s party comes to a close and a new fairy tale is ushered in.

It’s exciting, isn’t it? The slate is wiped clean and anything is possible in the new year! We’ve got a new chapter to write in our lives. We’ll have a new story to tell. And whether we’re singing, dancing or making merry on this happiest of holidays, the door to possibility is wide open with the simple tick of the clock!

So how will we spend those final moments of the year? Some of us may revel in the possibilities – What delights will the new year bring? (Eat, drink and be merry, maybe? Luke 12:19) Others might look back to days gone by – Shall we sing another chorus of Auld Lang Syne and think fondly on years past? (After all, there is a time for everything under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:2-8)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

We’ve probably all had an opportunity to sing it a time or two…

Maybe you’ve joined in with the enormous crowds that link arm in arm at New York’s Times Square and sway back and forth while the familiar notes play. Possibly you’ve watched as director Frank Capra’s iconic character George Bailey comes to truly appreciate the years he’s lived and joins in with the singing at the end of the wildly popular Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Or as you circle around the fireplace with loved ones near, maybe you’ve hummed along with the notes to ring in January 1st. However it’s celebrated or sung, this song is ingrained in our American culture and in those English-speaking countries around the globe. Arguably, it is the song to define the transition from one year to the next, whether we joyfully welcome the new year or lament on days long past… It signifies the transition from the Christmas holiday season to the possibilities of the new year beyond.

Robert Burns
Photo: Robertburns.org

Often referred to as “the World’s National Anthem” (because of the association with New Year’s celebrations the world over) and “the Song that Nobody Knows” (because the tune is recognized but the lyrics often forgotten), Auld Lang Syne was written by celebrated Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns in 1788. Conflicting accounts state that it was an original work penned by Burns, while others reference his compilation of James Watson’s formerly published ballad “Old Long Syne” (1711). Nevertheless, Burns’ version was included with other compiled and original works for a collection sent to the Scots Musical Museum publication with the following note:

“The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.” (Lindsay, Maurice. “Auld Lang Syne”. The Burns Encyclopedia. 1959)

 

While the literal English translation for Burns’ Auld Lang Syne  title is “old long since”, there are many interpretations that have made their way into popular culture: “long, long ago”, “days gone by”,   and “old times” to name a few. I especially love the contemporary connection to the phrase “In days of auld lang syne”, which Scottish novelist Matthew Fitt used to liken his retelling of fairy tales to the familiar storybook beginning, “Once upon a time…” From Elvis Presley to Billy Joel, Rod Stewart to Prince and Miles Davis, modern-day celebrities have taken turns performing their renditions of the popular song as a part of accepted holiday revelry. Most recently, actress Lea Michele (of Glee fame) sang her own version of the song in the 2011 film New Year’s Eve. (It was not my favorite film by any stretch of the imagination, but Lea’s rendition of the much-loved song was fresh and electric!)

wiki commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Whether we feel like Cinderella or not, it won’t be long before the clock on the wall clicks over to midnight and we’re all officially a part of 2013.  As we all join in the celebration of a new year, I hope you’ll take a look at the lyrics and as the familiar tune begins to play, remember the magic in the words written so long ago. (You just might be the only person to get the words right if you’re caught singing in the Times Square crowd! <wink>) Like the Bible, which was written so long ago but has truth that still breathes life today, Burns’ version of Auld Lang Syne has managed to stand the test of time from the Regency Era to 2013.

We here at Regency Reflections hope that you not only have the memories of days gone by to keep you warm in the upcoming winter months, but we pray for God’s loving provision to bring you joy in the all the years ahead.

May you be richly blessed in the new year and beyond!

Jeremiah 29 11

In His Love,

Kristy

Christmas Candy Regency Style by Laurie Alice Eakes

Confectioner's Shop

We are so used to those luscious candies we justify eating at Christmas time—fudge, Godiva chocolates, cherry cordials, etc.—that we don’t consider how little chocolate was available during the Regency, and certainly not in cream-filled or even buttery forms. Mostly, chocolate was for drinking.

Here, however, are two recipes for candies that might have been made at Christmas time—confectionary and chocolate drops.

 

 

 

To Make Confectionary Drops

Dutch cocoa

Take double refined sugar, pound and sift it through a hair sieve, not too fine; then sift it through a silk sieve to take out all the fine dust which would destroy the beauty of the drop.  Put the sugar into a clean pan, and moisten it with any favourite aromatic…Colour it with a small quantity of liquid carmine, or any other colour, ground fine. Take a small pan with a lip, fill it three parts with paste, place it on a small stove, the half hole being the size of the pan, and stir the sugar with a little ivory or bone handle, until it becomes liquid.  When it almost boils, take it from the fire and continue to stir it: if it be too moist, take a little of the powdered sugar, and add a spoonful to the paste, and stir it till it is of such a consistence as to run without too much extension.  Have a tin plate, very clean and smooth; take the little pan in the left hand, and hold in the right a bit of iron, copper, or silver wire, four inches long, to take off the drop from the lip of the pan, and let it fall regularly on the tin plate; two hours afterwards, take off the drops with the blade of a knife.

Carl Larsson (1853-1919) - 1904-05 Christmas Eve (National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden)

To Make Chocolate Drops

Scrape the chocolate to powder, and put an ounce to each pound of sugar; moisten the paste with clear water, work it as above, only take care to use all the paste prepared, as if it be put on the fire a second time, it greases, and the drop is not of the proper thickness.

Note: A pound of sugar is about 2 cups by modern measurements. I have no idea how much an ounce of cocoa powder is, but this would be like Hershey’s cocoa powder for baking.

 

And if you want something a little more nutritious to serve before the chocolate, here is a recipe for White Soup that says it is good for all seasons:

WHITE SOUP

1/4 lb. of sweet almonds, 1/4 lb. of cold veal or poultry, a thick slice of stale bread, a piece of fresh lemon-peel, 1 blade of mace, pounded, 3/4 pint of cream, the yolks of 2 hard-boiled eggs, 2 quarts of white stock.

Reduce the almonds in a mortar to a paste, with a spoonful of water, and add to them the meat, which should be previously pounded with the bread.

Beat all together, and add the lemon-peel, very finely chopped, and the mace.

Pour the boiling stock on the whole, and simmer for an hour. Rub the eggs in the cream, put in the soup, bring it to a boil, and serve immediately.

Time – 1-1/2 hour.

The Hunt

The Lucky Man Fox Hunting by Lionel Edwards
The Kill by Thomas Blinks

Hunting season is just gearing up here in Maine. Already a few families have caught their moose, which will fill their freezers for the winter. During the Regency era in England, hunting had become the sport of gentlemen, although it wasn’t limited to the aristocratic class. But if you didn’t own land where game could thrive, you depended on permission of the landowner. Poaching was illegal and with punishment if caught of transportation to the penal colonies (i.e. Australia) for seven years (according to the Game Laws of 1816) or injury if you were caught in a “man-trap”. Prior to 1816, penalties were doubtless more severe. But we won’t dwell on that unpleasant topic today.

Red Grouse on Alert by Archibald Thorburn

Back to hunting as a sport for the idle rich. Pheasant, partridge, hare and rabbit were all “fair game”—pun intended. The official start of hunting season was August 12th “Glorious Twelfth” for red grouse in the north. It coincided with the recess of Parliament for the year, when the gentry flocked north—another pun—out of hot, dirty London for their country estates or those of their friends. The red grouse is a fowl native to Scotland and northern England so those lucky enough to have estates there could probably expect company during the month of August.

Fox hunting was  probably the most popular hunting sport of the regency buck (young, all around sporting man of the ton participating in all the debaucheries available to him). Fox hunting gained popularity as the Enclosure Laws of the 1700s shut off more and more open land with stone walls and hedgerows, giving the landless class less space to grow food and the propertied class more area to protect the wild life for their own pleasure. What had begun a few centuries earlier as a defense of farmers against fox damaging their crops evolved into a very structured sport centered in the “Shire” of England, Leicestershire, in the heart of England, an area of rich, flat pastureland ideal for “riding to the hounds.” The town of Melton Mowbray became the center of fox hunting. Three major hunts, the Quorn, the Belvoir (pronounced “beaver”), and the Cottesmore were held here.

Fox hunting went from the beginning of November through March, after the fields had been harvested and would not be damaged by the horses and hounds running over them and ended before the first spring plantings.

If the hunting was good, men were reluctant to return to town, so women, arriving in London in March would complain over the dearth of men in the early part of the season.

The Hunting Party Meal by by Nicolas Lancret
Portrait of Favorite Foxhounds by Thomas Woodward

Dog and horse breeds were gradually selected and improved for hunting: the foxhound breed perfected in the 17th and 18th centuries in England for foxhunting, and the Irish hunter becoming the preferred horse for its endurance. Dogs were first used in packs for hunting in the mid-17th century.

Equestrian portrait of the Grand Duchess Yekaterina Alexeyevna

Fox hunting was a man’s sport until the 1830s when the jumping pommel was invented for female side saddles. Before this, if you read about a heroine being just as intrepid a rider alongside the hero in a hunt, she would risk falling off her horse and breaking her neck if she tried such a stunt—unless she rode astride—difficult before the invention of the split skirt in the later Victorian era. A few renown women like Catherine the Great did ride astride but wearing male attire  (she also rode side saddle as you can see in the portrait). But being royalty she could get away with this unladylike behavior.

jumping pommel sidesaddle - wikipedia

The jumping pommel sidesaddle had an extra pommel as can be seen in the photograph for the left leg to secured against, in addition to the original pommel for the right leg. Women’s riding habits had long hems on the left side so their ankles would be well covered when they sat atop their horses. This is why they had to drape these long skirts over their left arm when walking. With this new sidesaddle women could gallop and jump fences for the first time.

So until this invention, women had to be content to ride along the roads in carriages, ride sidesaddle on gentle mounts to the meet and then ride home again, or enjoy the sometimes elaborate picnics planned around a hunt.

 

From:

Wikipedia and blogs: A Web of English History: The Age of George III; Jane Austen’s World; The Jane Austen Centre; Rakehell: Where Regency Lives!; The Word Wenches: Fox Hunting; Shannon Donnelly’s Fresh Ink: The Regency World Horse

 

Beautiful Days

I noticed the tree from more than fifty yards away.

In fact, I’m sure I couldn’t have ignored it had I tried.

Its branches stretched a canopy out over the road. Its leaves had already begun to fall, creating a fiery blanket of orange and yellow on the surrounding grass. And though I hadn’t thought this would happen on a simple drive to the office, I was suddenly enchanted. It was as if the earth had whispered on a last August breeze and I was convinced to pause and appreciate its song. With it, I began to think about the shift from summer to autumn. It reminded me that on mild mornings such as that one, change is right around the corner.

It reminded me of the gift of beautiful days.

As the weather becomes cooler and the days grow short, we’ll soon be drawn indoors for much of our memory making. There will be new smells, tastes, sights and sounds to enjoy – all gifts of the senses that remind us of our blessings and God’s provision through the seasons of the year. As crisp nights and foggy mornings make their first appearance on the landscape, we will pass from the relaxing sanctuary of summer to the lively colors of autumn.  And after all of the fun and frolic we’ve had in our August days here at Regency Reflections, we’re ready to move on and welcome the new season…

In the Regency years, autumn would usher in the enjoyment of tastes such as hartshorn, cranberry, and orange jellies (find tasty Jane Austen Centre at Bath recipes here), Barmbrack (a traditional Irish fruit bread), an array of harvest fruits (apples, pears, currants, apricots and grapes), mulled wines and spiced ciders, nuts, puddings, decadent trifles and warm, sweet confections. (Jam tartlets anyone?)

Can you smell the cinnamon? Perhaps taste the earthy nutmeg as it melts on your tongue? It would have been these new flavors that crossed-over into the harvest season to come.

The changing of seasons would also bring the last thrills of summer before the celebration of fall. Country dances would still be held outside (as long as the weather would hold) and many a Regency family would remain at their country homes through much of the hunting and holiday season, enjoying the great outdoors while the weather was still hospitable enough to entertain.  Young men might be sent off back to school and young girls, usually engaged in a less formal education, would be enriched in their own knowledge with lessons in music, drawing, dancing and language studies at home.

Leaves would still fall and the harvest was still celebrated.

There were still beautiful days.

Other than the fox hunting and hartshorn jelly of course, autumn in the Regency Era isn’t all that different from what we experience today. We’ve probably seen the children heading back to school. Vacations are likely over. It’s back to work through the week and relishing in the leisure on the weekends. Summer has passed and the harvest is here. And in the months to come, the authors of Regency Reflections will explore this beautiful season with you.

As seasons change, remember that memories of the fun and frolic in our summer days will warm the frosty nights to come. Remember that the God worshipped in the Regency Era is the same Father that orchestrates the transition of our seasons today. He creates the color of fallen leaves on our way to work. He generates the wind-whispers and the beauty in our changing days. And yes, His blessings are thoughtfully remembered as the harvest is brought in.

What will you remember most about the fun and frolic of your August summer days? What are you looking forward to celebrating in the new season ahead?

Welcome September, and may we find nothing but the gift of His beautiful days ahead.

~ Kristy

Call Me Maybe, Autumn?

Vanessa here,

My child is bored and now looking forward to the purchase of new scissors and paper. She’s awaiting change, the exchange of one season for the next. Call it back to school or progress. We’ll soon be tracking across hot parking lots and crowded malls for the best deals on back-to-school fair. Hopefully, we’ll catch a breeze and a 40% off sale.

Overhead the leaves haven’t started to turn. Sweeping my wet brow, I long for cold sweet tea. The heat of summer still maintains it grip, but with the advent of August, it’s only a matter of time for autumn to come a callin’. Maybe it will call tomorrow?

I love all things Autumn: The hues of ruby trees scattered amongst the emerald pines. The sweetness of ripening apples in the off-the-beaten-path orchards. And yes, the cooling of temperatures.

In the midst of Autumn, we get sweater weather. Warm enough to survive with just a light knit but not cold enough to bundle up head to toe in wool.

For those that don’t know, I live in Georgia where steam and humidity are second nature to our summers. I remember when wearing panty hose was common place, (Wow, I sound old) and mine would become oppressively sticky just crossing a parking lot.

So I often wondered how my Regency heroines would survive, layered in chemise, corsets, massive skirts, walking dresses, carriage dresses, etc.  Even when sea bathing in Bath, they were steeped in fabric. How could they survive?

Well, a little bit of research answered the pervasive question. Regency summers weren’t that hot. In fact, 1816 was known as the ‘year without a summer’. Volcanic eruptions originating in the East Indies cast thick ash clouds that affected temperatures throughout Europe. England seemed shrouded in cold. It snowed on Easter. Snow remained on the ground and in the hills and countryside until late July.  August barely warmed, then by September the temperatures fell again and The River Thames froze over once more.

Can you image? Barely a month of sweater weather.  I might complain about the heat, the sweaty nylons, but I don’t know how I would deal with a year of no heat. How would the apples mature? Would there be pie? Would my child ever get that feeling of expectation?  The corn in 1816 froze on the stalks and couldn’t even be used to feed cattle.

Maybe I should rethink my disdain for the heat.

So, I’ll try Spanks and enjoy my sleeveless blouses for another month or two and love each new humid day.

Another reason for Gratitude,

Be Blessed,

Vanessa Riley

http://booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/1800_1849.htm

http://www.essentially-england.com/weather-in-england-in-the-1800s.html

http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=winter-history