A Child's Magical Holiday
Victorian Homes|Winter 2017
A Child's Magical Holiday

LEARN HOW THE VICTORIANS REVIVED CHRISTMAS IN THE 1800S.

Lidy Baars

Celebrating Christmas through the eyes of children is an irresistible way to capture the magic of the season. A fresh green Christmas tree, adorned with a cherished collection of decorations and brightly-wrapped toys and gifts underneath (hopefully including that much-hoped-for toy) is a fairly new custom.

Many of the holiday traditions we cherish from our childhood, the ones that reassure and comfort us, are a result of our 19th century heritage. The Victorians imbued Christmas with a sense of joy and anticipation; they reinvented the celebration of Christmas.

HISTORY

In the early 1800s, Christmas as we celebrate it today—with beloved customs and sentimental daydreams of families gathered around the fire, opening gifts—was virtually non-existent. Historically, Christmas wasn’t a national holiday. Businesses were open like any other working day, and no one sent out holiday cards. Giving gifts was traditional for New Year’s instead.

Celebrating Christmas became a family affair only in the 19th century, as Christmas was celebrated at home. It’s no wonder the customs sparked in the Victorian age are lovingly passed down from generation to generation. Only in the month of December, leading up to Christmas, did families spend so much time together decorating the house, making special foods and preparing gifts for one another.

The wealth generated by the Industrial Age with new factories and industries allowed middle class families to take time off work and celebrate the Christmas holidays. The new railway meant that workers who had left their country homes to work in the cities could return home for the holidays and spend their time off with precious loved ones.

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Winter 2017