Victorian Christmas Traditions


As many of you know by visiting my space, the Victorian era is my favorite.  Even though the times were hard, they also held many beautiful traditions that provide beautiful collectibles for us today.  In particular, I collect Victorian trade cards, Christmas cards and advertisements.  The graphics in this era were unique and beautiful.  Here is a little sample of the history and a traditional Victorian Christmas.

The history of Victorian Christmas tradition states that Victorian Christmas started in 1837 with reign of Queen Victoria. With the usherance of Industrial revolution in the Victorian era, the very face of Christmas in England changed forever. Different traditions and customs were introduced like sending of Christmas cards and singing of Christmas carols. Victorian Christmas tradition thereby shaped the future of Christmas celebrations of the world by incorporating many fascinating customs and rituals which are still practiced today.

Traditional Victorian Christmas began with the Advent wreath symbolizing faith, joy, love and peace, usually observed on the first Sunday of Advent, when a candle is lit as a symbol of the light glorifying Christ’s birth on this earth. Also the custom of "Boxing Day” which originated during the Victorian era normally observed on December 26, when all the churches open their alms boxes and distribute the money to the poor. Though with the passage of time, this day is symbolized, as the day of exchanging gifts and presents among one’s family and friends. During the Victorian rule in England, it was customary to place lighted candles in windows during the 12 days of Christmas celebration as a gesture of welcoming weary travelers who are in search of food and shelter.

Traditional Victorian Christmas celebrations remained uncompleted with mouth watering dishes like ‘Sweetbread Pates’, ‘Roast Turkey’, ‘Parisian Salad’ and fancy Christmas cakes. Traditional Victorian Christmas decorations were characterized by decoration of Christmas trees by fruits, nuts and ribbons first introduced by Prince Albert in 1840. Also the legendary figure of Santa Claus became a common sight during Victorian Christmas celebrations. It’s during this time, that people allover England popularized the custom of decorating their houses with dresdens, pine cones and candy canes. Thus Victorian Christmas tradition represented the very multi faced culture of the then Victorian era.

Tomorrow I will start a blog series with images of Victorian Christmas cards…hope you will come and take a peek.

Hope everyone is having a beautiful day.

Christmas Greeting Card, Late 19th C
A two-sided holiday greeting card is decorated with white silk fringe. Front says: "Happy may your Christmas be".  Back says: "May Christmas Peace keep Winter from thy heart".


17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 12:19:09

    What a wonderful period in time. Thanks for sharing this information with us!


    Dec 07, 2008 @ 12:21:35

    i will for sure come and take a look.!!


  3. Unknown
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 12:28:43

    Wouldn\’t it be wonderful if we could be transported to the celebrations of that era? You can if you live the San Francisco area or travel to that area over the holidays. Kissing beneath the mistletoe, Santa, exchanging gifts, caroling, all wonderful traditions embraced by the Victorian Era, are some of our best loved traditions. The Nativity has been celebrated since the 4th century. I am especially fond of the idea of Christmas gift giving in the "old days" being focused on handmade gifts and food items, and simple, yet elegant Christmas decorations.I would LOVE to go back to those times!!!


  4. Carol
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 13:23:30

    What a nice entry and I love those traditions of the Victoran era. I\’m looking foreword to seeing your Christmas cards Rhonda, Hugs


  5. Rusty's
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 13:54:22

    Rhonda, this is just beautiful, how much simpler things were back then and the simple things like just being together meant so much. It will be a pleasure seeing those cards. Take care sweety and have a good day………..Rusty ((HUGS))


  6. Ray
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 14:45:45

    Very nice to have a collection like that Rhonda, times were not always as rosy for the poorer people in those days though. When you think of workhouses and transportation to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread!Hugs, DD


  7. Lizzie-Beth4Him
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 15:58:03

    Rhonda,Oh! I do so enjoy your Victorian Era blogs, information, and pictures. You have a beautiful collection and I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and photos with us. I am looking forward to your next blog on this.Dickens lived in this time and did much to bring attention to the plight of the poor and hypocricy of many in the upper classes. Christians, with Robert Raikes in particular, see link, started "Sunday School", to the poor classed who could not get an education. This is no longer mentioned, in a general fashion, as the Victorian era is out of favor with much of current academia. Many Christian traditions are based on meaningful symolizms but have gotten lost, being mixed with pagonism, secularization, and form (outward appearance) instead of the original spirit and intent. It was great to read how you\’ve brought out the original significance. Love and hugs,Beth


  8. Joe
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 16:20:15

    Fascinating, I really like hearing about these things. Somehow our society seems so quick to lose the important things about this season. I\’m so interested, thanks for posting about it!


  9. Sara
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 16:31:52

    I love that era a lotttttt. thanks for the blog. miss ya. love n hugs, meeee lol


  10. Angel eyes
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 16:55:10

    in canad here we celebrate boxing day angel eyes


  11. Curtis
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 18:24:33

    That was interesting. Thanks for sharing that. Have a great week Hugs to you and may God bless


  12. Rambling
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 19:01:28

    Hi dear…stopping by to see how you\’re keeping.Speaking of Victorian times which I also enjoy learning about..I wish we had the custom of calling cards again and times to "receive". I know you know what I am talking about though someone who is not familiar with the really old times may not. You know..calling and leaving your card..etc etc.


  13. JoAnn
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 20:40:05

    Thanks for sharing this. I love the Victorian era. This Victorian Christmas card is beautiful and I\’ll certainly be back to see more. Have a great evening.


  14. sunee
    Dec 07, 2008 @ 22:22:27

    Hi Rhonda, I enjoyed reading your post tonight. I hope you are doing well. I hear you have lots of snow back East. We don\’t have much snow to speak of, it\’s been a mild winter so far! Take Care~


  15. Zeynep
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 02:34:03

    Hi Rhonda!! Some people say that all things will be Victorian one day, lol. Love and peace, Zeynep xx


  16. Cindy
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 08:41:42

    They say, everything old is new again…maybe the old Victorian traditions will come back. How cool would that be? Love all the beautiful colors and embossing on the old cards. They were really worth hanging on to for collectors just like you.


  17. Sheila
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 15:50:24

    Thanks for the history, especially the part about the candles in the windows. I\’ve heard that before, but I think a lot of people are unaware of the meaning.


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