I recently stumbled across a review — I think it was posted both on amazon and on a blog — in which the reader complains, among other things (CASTLE really didn’t work for her), about the historical inaccuracies of the rotating Christmas tree stand and, oh my gosh, the blinking lights of the Christmas tree.
Does anybody think I actually meant electrical lights?
On a Christmas tree in a rotating stand???
Uh-hu. Probably not.
I didn’t mean candles either, because, come on, candles are expensive and if the inhabitants of the Castle of Wolfenbach are forced to drink Prussian Coffee instead of real coffee, they certainly won’t put expensive candles in their Christmas tree. No, they are wont to use nutshells filled with tallow. From what I read, it appears that tallow lights, and especially those itty-bitty nutshell-thingies, didn’t produce a nice, steady flame, but a flame that was flickering. Add the effects of castle-draughts and — voilà — there you’ve got your blinking effect.
As to the rotating Christmas tree stand. Yes, that is probably historically inaccurate indeed: I modelled it on my family’s stand, which dates from the late 19th century (and I really, really wanted to include it in this story; after all, when will I be able to put again a Christmas tree into one of my stories, normally all set in Regency Britain?). However, by 1830 musical boxes had already been around for several decades and the whole technique was really refined, so it’s not inconceivable that somebody combined it with a Christmas tree stand even then.
I know, I know, one can’t please everybody, but still … Hmph.