Of Cards And Carols: 10 Charming Facts About Victorian Christmas

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It’s hard to imagine that Christmas wasn’t always the superstar we’ve always known it to be. Before the reign of Queen Victoria and the influence and her husband Prince Albert brought to the era, the 19th century and the years before that hadn’t known what to make of the joyous celebration of family and love. After their impact on Victorian society had latched on, there was no stopping the Victorians from pulling out all the stops during the holidays. Ready for more awesome tid bits? Here are 10 charming facts about Victorian Christmas:

Fact 1: We all know him as our favorite little (or should I say big) chimney bug, and father of Christmas. Our main man in red, St. Nichols, better known as Santa Claus, is revered by generations as the epitome of Christmas embodiment, his reindeer and sleigh iconic among films and the like, alongside his famous gift giving system. In the original English Mid-Winter Festival, good old Santa is depicted wearing green, to symbolize the coming of spring. Modern times have him donning the bright color red.

Fact 2: Before the reign of Queen Victoria began, Christmas was hardly acknowledged, let alone celebrated as a holiday to be free of school or work. It wasn’t until the introduction of the Christmas tree by her husband Prince Albert of Germany, that the Christmas tradition of pine trees bedecked in the finest ornaments was born. The first tree ever brought in by Prince Albert to Windsor Castle was a pine tree back in 1984.

Fact 3: Victorians were mad about singing Christmas Carols, and perpetuated the door to door tradition of traveling by foot from house to house and serenading the neighborhood with jolly Christmas tunes in the hopes of some glittering change or sweets.

Fact 4: The popularity of sending out family portrait Christmas cards came about when esteemed Victorian Henry Cole asked an artist to create a Christmas card for him that illustrated a family seated around a dining table, with a warm Christmas greeting scrawled out in cursive on top. The card was such a hit that other wealthy Victorian families soon followed suit, and so the family Christmas card was born.

Fact 5: “Boxing Day” was another name given to Christmas during the Victorian era, as this referred to the lower class workers and the like opening their boxes of presents which they hve dutifully collected from the middle and upper classes.

Fact 6: The children were one of the most celebrated parts about Victorian Christmases, as this was the time of year they were rewarded despite being naughty or nice. They were highly encouraged to create Christmas cards for the family and relatives, and the cards would be displayed inside the home. Queen Victoria encouraged her children to do this up until they were older.

Fact 7: One of the largest influencers of the Victorian era was Charles Dickens and his masterpiece “A Christmas Carol”. Its groundbreaking success pressured all families, most especially the rich, to orchestrate the finest Christmas celebration in town. Victorian Christmases were famous for being extravagant and bright.

Fact 8: Way before Turkey was the Christmas dinner staple, either beef or swan took center stage on the dining table. The poor often made due with rabbit, while some parts of London had beef as a favorite. Eventually, Turkey had become the go-to Christmas feast.

Fact 9: Five of the most popular Victorian Christmas Carols are as follows: “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Once In Royal David’s City”, “See amid The Winter Snow”, “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”, as well as “Away In A Manger”.

Fact 10: The famous sweets and crackers Victorian Christmases have been known to popularize were all thanks to sweet maker Tom Smith. After a trip to Paris, he was inspired to wrap his crackers and the like in fancy wrapper, adding a sweet note and a small present or two, and the rest is history.

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