Thursday, October 13, 2016

Author Trivia - Ernest Hemingway

Merry Christmas Ernie, or where you end up after a lifetime of booze.

In Sweden the locals have a holiday that corresponds roughly to an early Christmas.  Some of you might be familiar with Saint Lucia's Day, but if not -
The day is celebrated in Sweden on December 13th.  At dawn, the youngest girl in the house, dressed in a white flowing gown tied with a red sash and with a crown of lighted candles on her head, serves coffee and Lucia buns (shaped like a cat's head) to everyone in the house that she awakens.  Lucia was originally a beautiful Roman maiden who refused to renounce her Christianity and was burned at the stake.  Because it falls on December 13th, when the days are short, it is an occasion to light candles.  From Christmas Treevia by D. Peter Harrington, 1994.

So in plain old English, the youngest girl in the household of maiden age gets up before anyone else, prepares coffee and a confection shaped like a cat's head, then dresses up in a flowing white gown accessorized by a red sash and a lighted candelabra balanced on her head.  She proceeds to serve breakfast in bed to everyone.

Hemingway was a boozer.  By some accounts he was out drinking and helling around every chance he got.  So when a casual friend offered to put him up at the friend's home in Sweden during the holidays, Hemingway shrugged and accepted.  What could go wrong?

On the 13th the old booze hound was awakened early in the morning, and the first thing he sees is an apparition with its head on fire.  Hemingway thought he'd died in his sleep, and was now in Hades.  He jumped out of bed and ran screaming out of the house, calling on the Lord with the fervor of a down south revivalist converting a packed tent of sinners.  Serves him right.

After the household caught him and calmed him down, you'd have thought he might have tapered off a little.  No such luck.  Rumor has it that Hemingway swore off Sweden during the holidays for the rest of his life.

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