The Victorians have a lot to answer for. If you think the Victorians were stuck-up, you are not the only one. For a lot of people, the Victorian era puts them in mind of cholera epidemics, children in workhouses and a queen who wore a lot of black.
In actuality, we have the Victorians to thank for most of our favourite Christmas Traditions. The Christmas tree is thought to be a Germanic tradition, made fashionable in Britain by Prince Albert. The idea of a Christmas Feast runs through the Medieval Period and before but it is in the Victorian period that we begin to see dishes that we would recognise as festive today (they start to make mince pies with fruit, not meat, and we will always be thankful).
The Victorian Period also saw the invention of the Christmas Cracker and the first Commercial Christmas Card:
Sir Henry Cole, English Civil Servant and Inventor, commissioned the first Christmas Card in 1843. John Callcott Horsley produced the design and several thousand were sold at a shilling each.
These types of cards became incredibly popular throughout the period and evolved as time went on. They became far from the stuck-up specimens we might expect.
Some Victorians Christmas cards were whimsical, and at other times, downright bizarre! Men who were actually vegetables, cartoon bird-cooks and children roasting in porcelain are just the tip of the iceberg
Some cards had no distinct association with the festive season as we would recognise it. Yet there is a certain energy and fun nonetheless.
These cards help illustrate that the Victorians were far from the all stuck-up and knew just as well as we do how to have fun.
Merry Christmas and a Whimsical New Year!