Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Victoria Tait & Holly, Baubles and Murder

Posted October 24, 2023 by meezcarrie in Christmas, cozy mystery, giveaway, mystery/suspense, Victoria Tait / 2 Comments


Victoria Tait guest post

Please join me in welcoming author Victoria Tait back to the blog to talk about Christmas decorations and her new British cozy mystery Holly, Baubles and Murder!

Holly, Baubles, and Murder by Victoria TaitHOLLY, BAUBLES AND MURDER by Victoria Tai
SERIES:
A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery #8
GENRE: British Cozy Mystery (Clean)
PUBLISHER: Kanga Press
RELEASE DATE: October 20, 2023
PAGES: 228

A joyful Christmas festival turns deadly when a corpse ends up as the chilling centerpiece. Can an amateur sleuth unwrap the tinsel-tangled mystery before the merry cheer melts away?

Talented antique enthusiast, Dotty Sayers, is thrilled to be organising a Christmas display at a Yorkshire country house. She enjoys decking the halls, but the season is far from jolly when the chief guide is found dead, her body as cold as ice.

When cops dismiss the death, Dotty turns to her prickly American colleague, only to learn he has his own secrets to solve. But when he disappears, this amateur detective fears the festive charades have become far deadlier.

Can Dotty string together the clues and bring to light the killer?

 

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Holly, Baubles and Christmas Decorations

by Victoria Tait, author of Holly, Baubles and Murder

The name of the book is based on the theme of Christmas decorations. In 2022 I was lucky enough to visit Chatsworth House, the home of the Devonshire family, for their wonderful festive display.

The theme was Nordic, and included a lot of greenery, particularly in the large room dedicated to marble sculptures. It was in this room, with the lifeless white busts and effigies, that I thought about hiding a body. And from this, I devised the story in my book Holly, Baubles and Murder.

Mid-winter, the winter solstice and December, have always hosted celebrations. In Roman times it was the festival of Saturnalia honouring Saturn, the god of agriculture, so that he might bestow a bountiful crop the following growing season.

For pagans, it’s likely the festival marked the passing of the darkest, and shortest, day of winter, with rejoicing that spring was around the corner.  A festival, known as Yule, was observed by Germanic people.

All these cumulated in the Christian celebration of Christmas, which took many things from the historic festivals, including decorations.

During Yule, pagans often adorned the Yule log, the primary piece of wood used in the fire during the night of the Winter Solstice, with ribbons, candles and other easily obtained symbols of the season, including red holly berries and evergreen trees.

In England, most church records surviving from the Middle Ages include entries for purchases of holly and ivy in winter.  London historian, John Stow, found an account from 1444 noting that houses, as well as churches, were ‘decked with holme, ivie, bayes, and whatever season of the year offered to be green’.

The tradition of greenery in Christmas decorations was incorporated into Christmas carols, such as ‘Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly’, which originated from Wales in the sixteenth century, and ‘The Holly and the Ivy’.

Charles Darwin noted in the Victoria era, in 1877, that the scarcity of bees in spring had resulted in fewer holly berries to decorate their hearth with at Christmas.

And it was Queen Victoria who made Christmas trees fashionable in houses. The tradition originated not from her consort, Prince Albert, as many people think, but from Queen Charlotte, German wife of George III, who set up a tree in the Queen’s Lodge, Windsor, in December 1800.

I knew that Norway presented the UK with a huge Christmas tree each year, erected in Trafalgar Square, London, but not the reason for the gift.  It is a token of gratitude to the British people for their assistance during the second world war when the Norwegian King and government fled to the UK from Nazi occupied Norway.

Christmas trees are decorated with many items, from twinkling fairy lights, representing the original candles, to tinsel, to brightly coloured candy canes. But the most popular are circular Christmas baubles.

The source of the bauble is thought to have originated from the Romans when they decorated fir trees with nuts and fruit during their festival of Saturnalia. In the 1840s, German, Hans Greiner, took this idea and created glass replicas of fruit and nuts to hang on trees. Each one was topped with a hook and a little crown.

More baubles were hand-crafted and painted, and caught the attention of Queen Victoria, who brought them back to Britain. The first American-made glass baubles were created in New York and sold by F.W. Woolworth. By 1910, more than 1,000 Woolworth stores sold the Christmas ornaments.

Christmas baubles now vary in shape and size, from inexpensive mass-produced ones to high-end ones made of glass, silver or crystal.

As the nights draw in, and the temperature drops here in the UK, many people are already looking forward to the Christmas holidays, when they’ll decorate their houses with holly and other festive finery, and place wrapped gifts under Christmas trees hanging with wonderful, coloured baubles. But let’s hope they don’t find a dead body!

I hope you enjoy reading Holly, Baubles and Murder.


Victoria Tait

Victoria Tait was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. After following her military husband around the world, she drew on her life’s experiences, and a love of Agatha Christie, Father Brown, and Murder She Wrote, to write British-based cozy mysteries.

Her determined female sleuths are joined by colourful and quirky teams of helpers, and her settings are vivid and realistic. As you’re compelled to keep turning the pages, you’ll be irresistibly drawn into a world where you’ll experience surprises, humour, and sometimes, a tug on your heartstrings.

Do you like tea, mysteries, and books? Then why not join Victoria’s TeaCozy Club for regular news and updates, and download the free prequel to the Dotty Sayers Antique Mysteries series as a gift by visiting VictoriaTait.com

Who doesn’t like tea, cake, and a slice of murder?


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What about you? What makes you want to read Holly, Baubles and Murder by Victoria Tait?

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