Very Victorian Christmas Traditions – A Fun Guide, Part 2:
In Part 1 of our Very Victorian Christmas Traditions guide, we gave you a fact-filled list of the modern Christmas traditions that were made popular by the influencers of the Victorian Age; Queen Victoria and the royal family.
The Victorian era also brought with it an industrial revolution with factories, trains and railways being invented and becoming a big thing. This meant that STUFF could now be made in big quantities and transported from place to place a lot quicker than before. That meant more CHRISTMAS STUFF (lots and lots more!) for more people in more places with more speed. Suddenly people of the Victorian Era had gone crackers over Christmas!
In Part 2 of our Very Victorian Christmas Traditions guide, we’ve put together a list of very modern Christmas traditions that were actually invented during the Victorian Era:
In 1840, the first postage stamps were introduced in England. The idea was called the “Penny Post” where you would pay a penny to buy a stamp to stick to your letter and post it. Three years later, Sir Henry Cole printed the first commercial Christmas cards and sold them for one shilling.
Many children, including those in the royal family, began crafting their own Christmas cards for family and friends. Sending Christmas Cards became so popular that less than 40 years later, in 1879, the call to “post early for Christmas” was first issued by the Post Office.
Admit, it, one of your favourite things about Christmas is all the sweet treats, right? Candy canes, chocolate orange, Quality Street, chocolate orange, Christmas cake, chocolate orange. So. Much. Chocolate Orange!
Well, in the 1840s, a London sweetmaker called Tom Smith invented a new and exciting way of packaging sweets for Christmas. He started wrapping them up in a fun twist of coloured paper. He’d just invented the first-ever Christmas Cracker! Over the years, the Christmas Cracker began to rise in popularity when the clever confectioner added more of the fun features we would recognise in a cracker today; mottos, jokes and the cracker’s trademark “bang”.
Before the Victorian Era, Christmas was barely celebrated and people certainly didn’t take a holiday from work (or school!) to celebrate it. But with the arrival of the industrial revolution, many middle-class families could now afford new luxuries. This included taking time off work over the Christmas period, specifically Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Even the servants of wealthy families got a day off. In fact, “Boxing Day” got its name from the day after Christmas when these servants would unbox the gifts they received from their rich masters.
Although the tradition of carol singing began long before Queen Victoria’s reign, it was those trendy Victorians who brought it back to popularity. Many new carols were written and enjoyed during this time, including Away In A Manger, O Come All Ye Faithful and Once in Royal David’s City.
The Victorians also revived many old carols by setting the old words to new tunes and they published the first major carol collection so everyone could gather around and sing at home.
And so ends our festive list of Very Victorian Christmas Traditions. Why not check out our other Christmas history blogs, including Forgotten and Very Weird Christmas Traditions, the Ancient Origins of the Christmas Tree and How Did Vikings Celebrate Christmas?