Was your holiday shopping finished by September? Or did you wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday? I admit, finding the perfect gift is not my strength. Which may be why my attention drifts this time of year to the question, “How did the present exchange tradition begin?”
Credit (or blame) the ancient Romans. From December 12-17, during the Roman feast of Saturnalia, masters waited on their servants and gave them gifts. Candles, a gift of light in the time of darkness, food (especially figs, pastries, and honey) in the time of scarcity, and coins (always welcome!), were common Saturnalia presents. Over the time, new midwinter festivals and holidays were introduced. Whether pagan, Christian, Jewish, or secular, the concept of holiday gift giving remained.
When in doubt, give books!
Praise for The Beltane Escape, Book One, The Two Realms Trilogy
By Ariella Moon
“…a fast-paced adventure that is equal parts Harry Potter, Game of Thrones (a PG version) and Alice in Wonderland.” An iTunes Reader
“I want the second one, I want more of everything. More Fenella, more Wizards, more Fae, more half-Viking hotties…just more of everything! If this novel has any foreshadowing of how the rest of the series is going to be, I can’t wait!” Jessica, Taking It One Book at a Time
Lady Fenella, Thaness of Thorburn, has no idea her fate is shackled to a powerful sorceress. She believes Merlin and the Lady of the Lake are myths, Gran’s warnings about Fairy are superstition, and Fairy was invented to make children behave. But a spell cast forward to sixteenth century Scotland finds Fenella and leads to her being branded, stolen, and betrothed. Traumatized and separated from her clan, the Highland heiress finds an unexpected ally in her kidnapper’s son. But their fragile romance is tested when the Lady of the Lake lures Fenella’s cousin into Fairy. Fenella has seconds to decide. Should she remain with Edward, or should she dive into Fairy to rescue her beloved cousin, endangering her clan, and abandoning Edward to his ruthless father?
Excerpt From The Beltane Escape by Ariella Moon
Viviane fingered the pouch. She trailed her thumb over the doeskin, searching for the hard edges of Merlin’s spell book. Magic pulsed like a warning through the animal hide. Stung, Viviane released the bag. A cold spray of water slapped her chest, and her heart stuttered. A water droplet splattered the pouch then spread like blood
“Foolish girl,” the waters admonished. The lake churned, spinning the boat.
“I am neither foolish, nor a mere girl.” Viviane unleashed a spell to halt the whirlpool. The spiraling water abruptly calmed, thudding Viviane against the vessel’s side. “I am the Lady of the Lake.”
“Your theft will provoke Merlin’s ire,” the waters warned. “He will exact revenge.”
“Why?” Viviane exclaimed, rubbing her arm. “He dared me! I but rose to the challenge. He has no cause for anger.”
“You expect Merlin to be rational?” Water slapped her shoulder, soaking through her cloak and gown. “He is as impetuous as you.” A forceful wave crashed against the boat, causing Viviane to momentarily lose her balance, and setting her teeth on edge. “Merlin’s magic is far-reaching. You are no match for him.”
“I am. The theft proves it!” She felt a swift kick from the pouch.
“The theft merely proves your recklessness.” The wave rose ’til it towered unwavering afore her. “Did you once think of the consequences?”