Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)


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Nineteenth Century Perspectives
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Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume National University of Ireland, Galway. E-mail: paulraphaelrooney gmail.

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Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this article. Download all figures. It's hard to imagine now, but at the beginning of the 19th century Christmas was hardly celebrated.

Autumn Books Received | SEL Studies In English Literature | Rice University

Many businesses did not even consider it a holiday. However by the end of the century it had become the biggest annual celebration and took on the form that we recognise today. Many attribute the change to Queen Victoria, and it was her marriage to the German-born Prince Albert that introduced some of the most prominent aspects of Christmas.

In the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal family celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree, a tradition that was reminiscent of Prince Albert's childhood in Germany. Soon every home in Britain had a tree bedecked with candles, sweets, fruit, homemade decorations and small gifts.

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In Henry Cole commissioned an artist to design a card for Christmas. The illustration showed a group of people around a dinner table and a Christmas message. At one shilling each, these were pricey for ordinary Victorians and so were not immediately accessible. However the sentiment caught on and many children - Queen Victoria's included — were encouraged to make their own Christmas cards.

‘Popular Literature at Christmas: Reading and Ritual’ by Kate Forrester

In this age of industrialisation colour printing technology quickly became more advanced, causing the price of card production to drop significantly. Together with the introduction of the halfpenny postage rate, the Christmas card industry took off. By the s the sending of cards had become hugely popular, creating a lucrative industry that produced The commercialisation of Christmas was well on its way.

Another commercial Christmas industry was borne by Victorians in when a British confectioner, Tom Smith, invented a bold new way to sell sweets.


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Inspired by a trip to Paris where he saw bon bons — sugared almonds wrapped in twists of paper — he came up with the idea of the Christmas cracker: a simple package filled with sweets that snapped when pulled apart. The sweets were replaced by small gifts and paper hats in the late Victorian period, and remain in this form as an essential part of a modern Christmas.

Decorating the home at Christmas also became a more elaborate affair. The medieval tradition of using evergreens continued, however the style and placement of these decorations became more important. The old custom of simply decking walls and windows with sprigs and twigs was sniffed at.

Christmas and the Victorian Medical Press

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Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters) Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)
Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters) Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)
Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters) Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)
Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters) Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)
Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters) Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)
Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters) Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)
Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters) Victorian Christmas in Print (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters)

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