Can you imagine a time when Christmas wasn’t celebrated like it is today? There was indeed a time like this, and it didn’t occur that long ago either. We have the Victorians to thank for setting us on the path to where we are today, making Christmas into a memorable time for everyone to enjoy.
For many of us, the best thing about Christmas is being able to spend it with friends and family members. It is the spirit of togetherness that makes all the difference, and we always succumb to all the different traditions and habits that really make a good Christmas.
Many of these traditions stem directly from Victorian times too. You might think you would have to celebrate differently if you wanted to have a Victorian Christmas. But in fact a lot of our so called modern traditions are actually down to the Victorians anyway.
One excellent example of this is the Christmas tree. It seems as if the Royal Family first started this one off in the UK, and over time more and more regular people bought a tree to go in their homes as well. The decorations may have changed over time but the history still stretches back to the Victorians.
The same applies to Christmas cards. Nowadays we can buy huge boxes of them very cheaply indeed, but this wasn’t the case when the first examples of cards came to light in the 1840s. Back then they were very expensive but people liked the idea and many people made their own to send to their friends and family each year.
It is easy to see how the traditions have changed slightly as time has gone on. But the roots of many of today’s ways of celebrating are still much the same and they are still recognisable.
And it’s even possible to celebrate an authentically Victorian Christmas in the UK. Portsmouth holds a « Victorian Festival of Christmas » at the end of November where you can visit a themed Victorian street complete with taverns, entertainment and a Victorian Father Christmas. Similarly, Rochester holds a « Dickensian Christmas » which focuses on the Victorian-era Christmas novel « A Christmas Carol » by Charles Dickens.
The 21st century might be worlds apart from the late 19th century in many ways. But it is reassuring to know that many of the family traditions we hold dear stem from those times. We can travel to see relatives more easily today as well, although the Victorians were among the first to sample the new railways.
But we can still plan ahead to enjoy a good Christmas by booking train trips early for cheaper prices. This helps reduce the cost of travel, something the Victorians would no doubt approve of. The ability to book train tickets online is purely ours of course, but it is heartening to see that some things haven’t changed at all during the intervening years.