Winter Blogfest: Christmas Traditions in Victorian England by Cara Marsi

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a paperback copy of A Groom for Christmas (US addresses only – ebook of A Groom for Christmas to addresses outside the US.)

Christmas Traditions in Victorian England

Many of our modern Christmas traditions started in the Victorian era.

For thousands of years people in all cultures and all over the world celebrated mid-winter festivals. The early Christian church mixed these pagan festivals with their Christian celebrations to attract new converts. The origin of bedecking our houses and churches with evergreens such as holly, mistletoe and ivy began with the pagans. They believed these plants protected against evil spirits and encouraged the return of spring.

Before Victoria’s reign in 1837, no one in Britain had heard of Santa Claus; they had no Christmas trees; no Christmas cards were sent; no one took a holiday from work. Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” published in 1843, encouraged wealthy Victorians to give gifts and money to the poor.

As the middle class grew in England due to the proliferation of factories, industry, and the railways, the middle class began to take holidays on Christmas day and the day after, which was known as Boxing Day. Boxing Day took its name from the tradition of the working class opening the boxes containing the money gifts they’d received from the rich.

At the start of Victoria’s reign only the rich could afford to buy their children toys, as the toys tended to be homemade and expensive. With factories came mass production, and the middle class could afford to give their children toys for Christmas. Alas, the poor children got nothing. When Christmas stockings became popular around 1870, poor children could expect to find an apple or orange in their stockings.

Father Christmas and Santa Claus, which are sometimes treated as the same, were two different stories. Father Christmas was originally part of an old English midwinter festival. St. Nicholas, known as Sinter Klaas in Holland, eventually became Santa Claus in Britain.

The “Penny Post,” introduced in 1840 by Rowland Hill, paved the way for the first Christmas cards. A penny stamp paid for the postage of a card or letter anywhere in England. The railways made sending these cards and letters easier. In 1843 Sir Henry Cole printed cards for sale for one shilling each in his art shop in London. In 1870 a halfpenny postage was introduced, and the sending of Christmas cards took off.

Christmas trees were popular in Germany well before Victoria’s reign. Her German husband, Prince Albert, brought a tree to Windsor Castle in 1840, thus starting the custom of Christmas trees in England.

Christmas crackers are a tradition in England. A London sweet maker, Tom Smith, invented them in 1846. The original idea was to wrap his sweets in fancy colored paper. He found that by adding love notes, paper hats and small toys, sales really took off.

christmas_carols_Carol singers visited houses singing and playing musical instruments. Here are the dates popular Christmas carols made their debut:

1843 – O Come all ye Faithful
1848 – Once in Royal David’s City
1851 – See Amid the Winters Snow
1868 – O Little Town of Bethlehem
1883 – Away in a Manger
Read more about Victorian Christmas traditions at: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/England-History/VictorianChristmas.htm
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Groom%20200x300A GROOM FOR CHRISTMAS is a new twist on the classic Hallmark Christmas movie full of family, humor, love, and a little bit of redemption.

Family pressure just might make her do something crazy…

When a young woman hires her hometown’s former bad boy to be her pretend fiancé for the holidays, she finds she can’t wrap up her feelings as easily as a Christmas gift.

New York jewelry designer Graceann Palmer has two days to find a fiancé to bring home to Pennsylvania for the holidays so her matchmaking mama will quit fixing her up with jerks. The Falcon, a motorcycle-riding, leather-clad former high school crush, helped her out once before. Maybe he’ll do it again.

Jake Falco, man of many mysteries, is back in town on a mission—one the people of Spirit Lake most likely won’t appreciate. When Graceann presents him with her crazy scheme, it gives him something he’s always wanted—a chance to get to know Graceann. It also gives him the perfect opportunity to add fuel to his project of revenge.

But as Jake and Graceann grow closer, their engagement-of-convenience begins to feel like the real deal—until Jake’s secrets are revealed.

Can a relationship that began with lies and secrets bloom like a rare Christmas rose into happily-ever-after?

About the Author:An award-winning and eclectic author, Cara Marsi is published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. She loves a good love story, and believes that everyone deserves a second chance at love. Sexy, sweet, thrilling, or magical, Cara’s stories are first and foremost about the love. Treat yourself today, with a taste of romance.

When not traveling or dreaming of traveling, Cara and her husband live on the East Coast in a house ruled by two spoiled cats who compete for attention.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

Comments

  1. I love doing research. What is the most unusual thing you ever did in the name of research?

    • Hi, Debra, thanks for the question. I wish I could say the most unusual research I did was going to a morgue to look at dead bodies for one of my suspense stories. But I’m not brave enough for that. I guess the most unusual I did was going to a rodeo. I live on the East Coast so it wasn’t easy to find a rodeo, but I found one in Cowtown, NJ. My very first book (never published) was set on a ranch in Wyoming. I’m East Coast born and bred and have never been on a ranch in my life. I enjoyed the rodeo and took notes, which got me strange looks from some of the people around me. I put a rodeo scene in the book.

  2. A very interesting post, learned things had not known about Christmas traditions.

  3. kim amundsen says:

    Sounds like a good read!

  4. Thanks, Kim. I hope you get a chance to read A Groom for Christmas.

  5. Vicki Batman says:

    Hi, Cara! I think it is interesting that we still sing some of the songs today. I’m so happy for you and your story. Many holiday hugs!

  6. I can’t imagine how different the holiday was back then. But I suppose since life was so different, it shouldn’t surprise me. Thanks for showing us how much things have changed. All the best!

  7. interesting info

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  8. Very interesting about the power of Dicken’s Christmas Carol affecting traditions about gift giving.

  9. Thanks to all who commented. And the winner of the print copy of A Groom for Christmas is—JeanMP. Jean, I’ll be contacting you about your win.

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