Track Santa Here On Christmas Eve

Victorian Christmas Traditions

Victorian Christmas - After the Puritan ban on celebrations, it took 200 years for Christmas to once again become an important event. Many of the things we most love at Christmas started in the Victorian age, such as sending cards, and the invention of the Christmas cracker. The picture of a fat, jolly Father Christmas or Santa Claus, dates from Victorian times. The Christmas tree became popular, as did gift shopping in big stores. In England, the Boxing Day holiday also started in the nineteenth century.
Christmas Crackers - The first illustration of a Christmas cracker appeared in The Illustrated London News in 1847, but there is some argument as to who invented them. Two London sweet makers, Tom Smith, and James Hovell, both claim to have invented the cracker. In 1840s Paris, sweets called "bon-bons" were wrapped in twists of brightly colored paper. Tom Smith (or James Hovell) brought back the idea but added a little slip of paper with a message on it, called "kiss mottoes." Later, other attractions were added, such as little paper hats, tokens and small toys, plus the "crack." It is said that Tom (or James) was sitting in front of his Christmas fire where the yule logs were crackling, which gave him the idea of putting a cracker strip inside his bon-bons. The crackers were also made to look like tiny yule logs, as they still do today.
Christmas Cards - Children in Victorian England had the task of writing greetings to their parents in their very best handwriting. Sometimes adults wrote Christmas letters to each other, but this could take up a great deal of time. The printed Christmas card solved the problem. The custom of sending printed cards was started in England by Henry Cole, who did not have time to write letters to each of his relatives. He asked an artist, John Calcott Horsley, to design a card for him. About 1,000 of these cards were printed, and those not used by Sir Henry were sold by the printer for one shilling. This was not cheap, which may be why they did not sell very well. With the introduction of the "penny post" in 1840, it became cheaper to send mail, and as a result of color printing and the invention of printing machines, cards could be printed faster and cheaper. The first company to print and sell Christmas cards on a large scale was Charles Goodall & Sons of London in 1862. The first charity card was produced in 1949 by UNICEF. Richard H. Pease, a printer from Albany, New York, is credited with sending the first specially printed Christmas card in America, in 1851. It managed to make the first mistake in Christmas card history. The card showed a building on which was hung a banner proclaiming "Pease's Great Variety Store."
Christmas Mail - In America in 1822, the postmaster of Washington, DC, complained that he had to add 16 mailmen at Christmas to deal with cards alone. He wanted the number of cards a person could send limited by law. "I don't know what we'll do if this keeps on," he wrote.
Letters to Santa - The following was printed in the New York Exchange in December 1893 - "Dear Mr. Santa Claus, I only want a pare of skates for Christmas and if it ain't cold a sled will do. My old ones bust. If they Anita no snow I would like anything you think of. My mamma says you are poor this year..."
Charles Dickens - By the early part of the nineteenth century Christmas had almost died out. The Times newspaper, for example, did not once mention Christmas between 1790 and 1835. Charles Dickens with his story A Christmas Carol did more than anyone to change all that. His tale of Scrooge, the Cratchit's, and Tiny Tim was a smash hit from the start. He wrote the story in just two months, beginning in October 1843 and finishing at the end of November. The book was published on 17 December 1843 and immediately sold out.

Back To Christmas Traditions

Home