Winter Blogfest: The Christmas Spirit, Victorian Style by Liese Sherwood-Fabre

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card.

The Christmas Spirit, Victorian Style

magician-hat-with-holy-leaves-christmas-vector-illustration_mJF-n-%20(1)Many Christmas traditions as we know them today originated in Victorian England. At the beginning of the 1800s, many businesses opened that day (so Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol wasn’t quite as crotchety as one would consider him today). Only as publicity surrounding Queen Victoria’s own family festivities grew did the day transform into the current celebration.

One which might surprise the American public was feasting on turkey. Although the bird was introduced to the country in the 1500s, it remained out of reach for most until the 1800s and continued as a luxury item until the 1960s. Hence, many still served goose on Christmas, just like the one Ebenezer Scrooge presented to Bob Cratchit at the end of A Christmas Carol.

In addition to turkey, other traditions popularized during the Victorian period included the Christmas tree, cards, and crackers. The tree became popular after Prince Albert brought the custom from Germany and the Illustrated London News included an image of the royal family gathered around one in 1848. Within a few short years, most families had their own. Family members also picked up the practice of creating and sending cards to one another. The original Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 and cost a shilling a piece (a fortune in those times), but modern industrial printing and a drop in postage rates made the convention accessible to most of the population. By the 1880s, more than 11 million cards were sent each year. Also in 1848, a British confectioner introduced the Christmas cracker—a package of twisted paper that popped when opened. The original candy contents, however, were replaced with paper hats and small gifts as the century passed.

Speaking of gifts, the practice of exchanging presents moved from the New Year at the beginning of the century to Christmas as Victorians more widely observed the holiday. The small traditional gifts of fruits, nuts, or homemade items, however, were replaced with larger, purchased articles over time.

Perhaps more important than the outward trappings of the season was the shift in the overall view of Christmas that occurred in the mid-1840s with the publication of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The story is credited with spearheading the change from somber Puritan observance of the 18th century to earlier practices of merriment and joy during the Yuletide season.

So in the words of Dickens, “God bless us everyone,” and have a happy holiday—Victorian or otherwise!

reindeer wars jpgTina has a tendency to go a little overboard when decorating for the holidays, but Brian decides her skills are just what he needs to get into the Christmas spirit. Can this budding relationship survive when they find themselves in a knock-down-drag-out competition to win the office’s “most outrageous holiday sweater?”

About the Author Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Liese Sherwood-Fabre knew she was destined to write when in the second grade she got an “A” for her story about Dick, Jane, and Sally’s ruined picnic. After obtaining her doctorate from Indiana University, she and her husband traveled to Washington DC, Honduras, Mexico and Russia following his job and hers with the federal government. After many years, she returned to Texas where she began to pursue her interests in writing with great success. Her works have won numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize nomination. You can learn more about her works on her Webpage where you can also download her free writing tips and essays on The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes. Signing up for her newsletter will also provide you with a free short story. Liese wishes all a happy holiday season and happy reading!

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Comments

  1. Salisa Waheed says:

    Loved the overall plot of the book. 😀 I mean come on the most outrageous holiday sweater?? Who wouldn’t like a competition like that?

  2. What a fun idea. Hope there are pictures in the book.

  3. I had Christmas goose once. It was quite fatty. thanks for the great post.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  4. I didn’t know any of those facts about Christmas. It was especially interesting to hear that many businesses used to stay open on Christmas since some modern businesses seem to be drifting back to the idea that it’s okay to stay open on big holidays like this one.

    Fascinating stuff!

  5. Great post, had a goose many, many years ago, no one was a big fan, so we never had one again. Your book sounds like such a fun read.

  6. I’m surprised Christmas crackers haven’t caught on here. They make such a nice table decoration.

  7. I was not aware of how many Christmas traditions were established or popularized by the Victorians. Thanks for the insightful post.

  8. I enjoyed reading the post. Thank you and Happy New Year!

  9. kim amundsen says:

    What a great cover. Thanks for a chance to win.

  10. We have a lot to thank Queen Victoria for. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the tree, cards, and carols!

    I love your cover and the story sounds like a fun read! All the best!

  11. Darling premise for a book, Liese! And thanks for the history lesson on the holidays and gift giving! You make research fun. Happy New Year- all the best.

  12. Your book cover and blurb were so cute and interesting. I’ve never eaten goose, but I love duck.

  13. Hi Liese! This was a interesting post. I loved hearing about the traditions and how they changed over the years .

  14. I love this book cover!

  15. Isn’t it adorable!

    Liese

  16. cute cover

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  17. I found this very interesting … I love learning about the origins of Christmas (and other) traditions. Thank you!

  18. Not sure where you got your information about the turkey – here’s the real scoop on turkeys which are native to the Americas rather than introduced by the Europeans and they were wild in the woods which means anyone with a gun or savvy enough with traps could have one.

    When Europeans first encountered turkeys in America, they incorrectly identified the birds as a type of guineafowl – i.e., as members of a group of birds which were thought to typically come from the country of Turkey. The name of the North American bird thus became “turkey fowl”, which was then shortened to just “turkey”. In 1550, the English navigator William Strickland introduced the turkey into England. In North America they were first domesticated by Native Americans from 800BC onwards for their feathers, which were used in ceremonies and to make robes and blankets. Turkeys were first used for meat by Native Americans in around 1100AD.

  19. Angela, you won the $10 gift card! Please contact me at liese@liesesherwoodfabre.com so that I can send it to you!

    Liese

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