Victorian Christmas Traditions
Although the birth of Christ has been celebrated for the best part of 2,000 years, it only became a festival as we know it in Victorian times.
Many of these Victorian Christmas traditions were introduced to English society by Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert.Windsor Castle in the 1840s.
The Introduction of Victorian Christmas Decorations
The burning wax candles and decorative Christmas baubles were a focal point of Victorian Christmas decorations and quickly the idea became fashionable in Victorian parlours everywhere.
However, they did not become mass-produced and affordable to the general public for many more years.
The Introduction of Victorian Christmas Crackers
In 1846, Thomas J. Smith, a London confectioner, had a great idea for selling more sweets at Christmas.
He wrapped a bon-bon in a twist of coloured paper, added a love note, a paper hat and a banger mechanism which was said to have been inspired by the crackle of a log fire!
This new idea took off, and ironically the bonbons were eventually replaced with a small toy or novelty.
The First Victorian Christmas Card
The first Christmas cards in England were designed for Sir Henry Cole, the Chairman of the Society of the Arts.
However, shortly afterwards colour lithography was developed making printing much cheaper.
Another significant factor was the rising popularity of the Royal Mail allowing postage costs to be reduced to one half penny per ounce.
Initially, Victorian Christmas cards were single postcards with simple designs but soon plum puddings, robins, and snowy scenes became popular designs.
You can find out more about the first Victorian Christmas cards in our article: The Birth of Victorian Christmas Cards
Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe
These common plants all produce winter berries and were held to be "magical" long before Victorian times.
Mistletoe had pagan origins and in Victorian times it was not allowed in churches.
However, kissing under the mistletoe was popular in Victorian homes.
Victorian Christmas Services
Although Christmas songs had been sung by wassailers from the 15th century, it was only at Christmas in Victorian times that they began to be sung in churches.
Christmas Day in Victorian Times
Traditionally the Victorian Era Christmas began on Christmas Day when church bells called everyone to church for scripture readings interspersed with carols.
Christmas dinner was a grand family affair for those who could afford it with a goose, chicken or roast beef. Turkey became popular in the late 19th century.