At present, many people affiliate December with traditions and festivities that appear like an integral a part of Christmas. Nevertheless, this wasn’t at all times the case. Actually, earlier than the Victorian period, Christmas was solely ever actually minimally celebrated in Britain and in different English-speaking international locations. It wasn’t till the reign of Queen Victoria and her German husband, King Albert, that Christmas turned the really festive celebration we acknowledge at present. Thus, it’s because of the Victorian period that the majority of our beloved Christmas traditions, similar to Christmas playing cards, items, and Boxing Day, are standard.

Nevertheless, the Victorian period was additionally chargeable for just a few barely odder traditions. Most of them, sadly (or in some circumstances happily), didn’t survive into at present. To recollect essentially the most fascinating of those who didn’t make the lower, we’ve got compiled an inventory of essentially the most uncommon Christmas customs of yesteryear which can be certain to place you in a festive spirit.

10Creepy Christmas Playing cards


The Victorian period is chargeable for the creation of the very first Christmas card, which was designed by John Callcott Horsley, an English painter, on the request of his rich good friend, Sir Henry Cole. Cole initially got here up with the concept for a Christmas card after he realized that he was a lot too busy to write down a person Christmas greeting to each individual amongst his household, mates, and colleagues. Cole was certain {that a} card with a festive picture and a greeting can be a far faster approach to ship his vacation needs to everybody.

After its preliminary success amongst Cole’s mates, 1,000 of those new Christmas playing cards have been printed and put on the market in 1843. Nevertheless, the Christmas card was not profitable at first and was even disapproved by the temperance motion, which feared that the presence of booze in a number of of the unique card designs would encourage drunkenness.

Nonetheless, a yr later, Christmas playing cards turned wildly standard, and shortly their design assorted enormously because of the varied painters that had totally different visions for the perfect Christmas card. Like Victorian valentines, a few of these new Christmas card designs featured cherubs, flowers, and different symbols of spring and new life. Others, nevertheless, have been far creepier and included unusual pictures similar to sinister clowns poking policemen with pink pokers, big killer wasps chasing kids, and playing monkeys.

9Glass Pickle


A glass pickle decoration was usually hidden contained in the Victorian Christmas tree for good luck. On Christmas day, the founding father of the glass pickle was both given a special gift or allowed to open their current first.

It’s stated that the custom of the glass pickle originated from a medieval story of two Spanish boys touring dwelling for Christmas. On their manner dwelling, drained and weary from touring, the youngsters stopped at an inn for a superb night time’s sleep. Nevertheless, the innkeeper was an evil man—he stole the boys’ possessions and stuffed them right into a pickle barrel. Fortunately for the boys, St. Nicholas stopped by the inn and saved them. The boys then thanked St. Nicholas for saving their lives and continued on to their household.

There exists a second model of the story, which differs barely from the primary. On this model, three Spanish boys are kidnapped by an evil shopkeeper who chops them up with an axe and pickles them in a barrel. Upon listening to in regards to the poor boys’ religion, St. Nicholas prays to God, and due to the purity of his religion, he succeeds in restoring the lives and our bodies of the boys.

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8Wassail Punch


Wassail punch was a well-liked winter drink constituted of a combination of fruit, cider, and spices. Victorians served it to carolers who went from home to accommodate wassailing or singing Christmas carols and hymns. After all of the carols have been sung, the carolers have been invited to the homes of Victorian households to share a sip of wassail from the communal wassail bowl. This custom of inviting carolers for a sip of wassail was borrowed from the Elizabethan period.

The recipes for Wassail punch assorted from household to household, but it surely was essential that the punch be scorching. Households with old style style based mostly their wassail punch on ale or cider, which was heated till it turned thick and foamy. Typically, the froth that fashioned on prime of the ale or cider was referred to as “lamb’s wool.” Contemporary nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, lemon slices, and roasted crab apples have been often added to reinforce the flavour of the punch.

7Festive Science


In the course of the Victorian period, the celebration of scientific progress turned nearly synonymous with the phrase Christmas. Christmas books usually contained experiments for children, information magazines printed scientific Christmas tales, and poems and newspapers marketed scientific Christmas items and scientific leisure actions.

Within the 1830s, two galleries of sensible science, The Adelaide Gallery and The Royal Polytechnic Establishment, opened their doorways to the general public. The Adelaide Gallery held numerous Christmas performances, together with festive oratorios that always featured projections of microscopic organisms and different scientific shows. The Royal Polytechnic Establishment quickly surpassed it in reputation largely as a consequence of John Henry Pepper’s contribution towards festive science on the Polytechnic.

A scientist and inventor, Pepper turned the Polytechnic right into a winter fairy story. Optical pantomimes and an enormous Christmas tree surrounded by stacks of scientific Christmas items have been an enormous hit, however the most well-liked attraction of all was the ghost. Pepper’s ghost was an phantasm of a ghost showing and disappearing on the stage. It was, nevertheless, not Pepper’s unique invention—it was tailored from a earlier design created by Henry Dircks, an English engineer, who designed however didn’t function the mirror-based invention some years beforehand. The trick of the phantasm was to undertaking a hid actor, who was hiding in a separate room, onto the stage. After every efficiency, scientists would give an intensive lecture on the science behind the magical efficiency and reveal the mechanisms behind it to the enthralled viewers.

6Parlor Video games


The Victorians have been extraordinarily keen on leisure and parlor video games, and there was no higher time for that than Christmas. Parlor video games have been entertaining, helped move the time, and cheered everybody up throughout instances when there was little else to do. At instances nevertheless, these video games have been downright harmful and reckless. Take snapdragon, for instance. Throughout this sport, a bunch of raisins have been piled right into a bowl with rum after which the rum was set on fire. The job was to grab the raisins out of the bowl and eat them whereas they have been nonetheless ablaze. Less complicated video games which can be nonetheless performed at present included charades and “Change Seats!

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In the course of the Victorian period, the loser of the sport normally needed to pay a forfeit, similar to to kiss each girl within the room. Typically, this forfeit appeared very agreeable to gents, however to their disappointment, a girl often accompanied them across the room and did all of the kissing on their behalf. Different ingenious forfeits included uttering half a dozen compliments to a girl with out utilizing the letter L or making like a Grecian statue and permitting others to place your limbs into positions of their selecting.

Forfeits for women have been comparable and sometimes included kissing as effectively. One such forfeit was to kiss a gentleman in a “rabbit trend,” whereby a girl and a gentleman of her selecting each put one finish of a piece of cotton of their mouths and pecked towards one another till they have been kissing.



The sort of meat served to the desk by Victorians largely trusted the wealth and placement of the household. Whereas the rich selected beef and turkey, particularly for events similar to Christmas, the poor weren’t in a position to afford such costly meat and as an alternative needed to accept one thing much less extravagant, similar to geese. Nevertheless, generally even geese have been far too costly, and in such situations, poor households needed to accept a less expensive festive dinner.

In the course of the Victorian period, oysters have been plentiful and low-cost. Small oysters have been usually offered as quick meals on the streets in addition to pickled to maintain for later. Larger oysters have been both put in stews and pies or eaten on their very own. Oysters have been additionally often consumed in public homes and went properly with a pint of stout beer. Figuring out this, it comes as no shock that on this period, the demand for oysters, which have been also referred to as “the poor man’s protein,” was excessive. For individuals who couldn’t afford another meat, it was oysters and never turkey that was most frequently the centerpiece of the Christmas dinner.



Christmasing was a Christmas custom whereby distributors gathered numerous festive branches, similar to mistletoe and holly, and offered them for revenue within the days earlier than Christmas. Homes, pubs, inns, and church buildings have been closely adorned with these festive branches, and sometimes, puddings and generally even mince pies have been adorned on this manner additionally.

Holly was extra standard than mistletoe for numerous causes, a very powerful being value. Holly price lower than half the value of mistletoe, and there was extra of it. In addition to that, holly may be grown in any hedge, whereas mistletoe grows solely within the branches of particular bushes, similar to apple and hawthorn. Thus, mistletoe was often seen as the acquisition of the rich courses or those that hosted events. As such, it turned one thing of a standing image to have some in your home.

A couple of weeks earlier than Christmas, road distributors usually scrounged the neighborhoods of London for holly. It was a precarious commerce, nevertheless, since distributors usually needed to trespass into personal grounds and land to acquire these festive branches. If caught by the grasp of the home or its servants, the seller was fortunate to have solely the holly taken away from him. To acquire mistletoe, distributors needed to trespass orchards and sometimes confronted hazard from canine, traps, and spring weapons. Thus, they scrounging for mistletoe way more not often.

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3Goose Feather Tree


The goose feather tree—a group of goose feathers dyed inexperienced and adorned with small ornaments—was the primary synthetic German, and later Victorian, Christmas tree. Feathers of swans, turkeys, and ostriches have been additionally used. These peculiar Christmas bushes have been first introduced over to America by German immigrants who discovered it difficult to find fir trees of their fatherland as a consequence of deforestation. On the time, it was standard to cut of the tip of a fir tree and use it as a Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the remainder of the fir tree then turned ineffective because it might no longer grow or present timber. Statutes have been even created to cease folks from having a couple of Christmas tree to stop extra harm to fir tree populations.

It was not overly troublesome to make these festive bushes. All one wanted was both sticks or wire and feathers. The sticks have been coated with the feathers after which drilled into a bigger stick with resemble branches. Typically, the feathers have been died inexperienced in imitation of pine needles.



In the course of the Victorian period, and certainly proper till the Nineteen Fifties, soccer on Christmas day was a convention essential as another. In an period when leisure choices have been few, soccer often resulted in followers suspending their Christmas roast dinner to attend a match. Essential matches have been usually performed each on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. In 1888, for instance, Everton performed two matches on Christmas day, attracting about 2,000 folks—a big crowd for the time. Their match on Boxing Day was much less thrilling (it was a draw) and resulted in a decrease turnout (however then once more, it was performed in a shower of hailstones).

The very first soccer league match performed on Christmas Day was in 1889 between Preston North Finish and Aston Villa. Each groups have been extremely robust, and 9,000 folks got here to observe the match.

When soccer leagues grew, followers began touring longer distances to view Christmas Day matches. Happily, there was no public transport shutdown, and thus folks might observe soccer leagues with out problem. Later, when televised matches have been launched, this custom was largely deserted.

1Goose Golf equipment

Regardless that the centerpiece of a Christmas dinner in Victorian England was usually a goose, most individuals earned solely a few shillings per week and have been far too poor to afford it. It was simpler for poor working households residing in rural areas since farmers usually gave a fowl or a chunk of meat to their staff as a Christmas bonus, and squires often gave meals to their tenants. Nevertheless, poor households that lived in cities and cities had no such alternatives of free Christmas meals. Thus, they usually joined “Goose Golf equipment.”

Members of this peculiar membership paid a couple of pence a week into the membership’s fund, which then went towards the acquisition of a goose simply earlier than Christmas. This ensured that everybody, even the poorest households, might get pleasure from a standard Christmas dinner. Incessantly, native bakers stayed open late on Christmas day and cooked the geese for the poor.

Laura is a pupil from Eire in love with books, writing, espresso, and cats.


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