Season’s Greetings to all my readers, friends and colleagues.
The heroine of Conquering Passion, a Norman Countess, is forced to spend Yuletide in captivity after being kidnapped and held for ransom by Welsh rebels. Her children (Robert and Baudoin) and two servants share her imprisonment in a remote mountain fortress.
“At the Winter Solstice, Rhodri’s people held a ceremony to honor the sun and he explained to Robert and Baudoin this was to encourage the sun to come back someday. Despite the remoteness of the fortress, it was well supplied. It had its own large communal kitchens made of stone which were separate from the wooden structure. There were two huge fireplaces for cooking. Most of the meals were surprisingly good and food was plentiful, but at Yuletide they enjoyed a special banquet, which began with mulled cider, followed by venison and fenberry pie. When Giselle asked where they had found fenberries, she was told they grew readily in the bogs of Wales.
An oak log was burned for twelve hours using the remains of the previous year’s log to light it. Rhonwen explained that, once it had been burned, the people would keep the remnants for next year, but the ashes would be spread on the fields in the valleys below at the time of planting. This would encourage a good harvest.
The doors had been decorated with holly. The Welsh believed the evergreen with its blood red berries was a sign of fertility, and its spikes would capture evil spirits before they entered.”
Can you guess what we call fenberries today?
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