Published: 28-08-2012, 13:06

Christmas in Victorian England: Christmas Greetings and Entertainments

Christmas in Victorian England

Christmas in Victorian England: Decline

Christmas in Victorian England: Revival

Christmas in Victorian England: Christmas dinner

Christmas in Victorian England: Christmas Charity

Christmas in Victorian England: Protestants Embrace Christmas

Christmas in Victorian England: Christmas Trees and Gifts

Christmas in Victorian England: Christmas Carols

Christmas in Victorian England: Customs in Decline

By the 1860s Victorians had come to cherish seasonal greeting cards (see also CHRISTMAS CARDROBIN). Many of these cards wished the recipient "Happy New Year” rather than "MERRY CHRISTMAS,” but by the 1870s the increasing importance of Christmas led card makers to include Christmas greetings as well. Victorian Christmas card designers created colorful and elaborate cards, often enhanced with silk, cords, and tassels. The ingenious cards so enchanted the public that newspapers reviewed new designs and people carefully collected and displayed the cards they received.

At about mid-century CHRISTMAS CRACKERS emerged as another Victorian Christmas novelty. These cardboard tubes, wrapped in decorative papers, contained a variety of tiny trinkets. When pulled on both ends, the party favors burst with a loud popping sound.

Other Christmas entertainments included parlor GAMES. In the game called "Snapdragon,” the hostess filled a bowl with currants (a raisin-like dried fruit), poured spirits on top of them, and set a lighted match to the mixture. Players dared one another to grab a currant out of the flaming bowl. When the family tired of Snapdragon they might move on to other parlor games, such as Blind Man’s Bluff or charades, or they might entertain one another with recitations, magic tricks, or Christmas carols.

The KISSING BOUGH offered a different kind of entertainment to the lovelorn or to the adventurous who lingered nearby. According to custom, one could steal a kiss from anyone who passed beneath its branches of MISTLETOE. Victorian tastes in Christmas decorations called for plenty of GREENERY, in addition to the kissing bough, usually displayed in the form of ropes, WREATHS, and sprays.

Victorians continued their Christmas fun on Boxing Day. On this day many families crowded into theaters to view a PANTOMIME, a circuslike presentation of a folk or fairy tale.