Christmas with the Victorians | Victorian Holidays


As Meredith Sweetpea decorates her tree and prepares her table, she ponders this question…What was Christmas like for the Victorians? Can their customs be different from ours today?

Christmas eve was a time for Victorian employers to entertain their employees and apprentices. Generally they would eat cake, cold roasts, and mince pie, and drink beer, a Gin Punch, mulled wine or Bishop (a punch made by heating red wine and adding oranges, sugar and spices). And often they would dance to a fiddler brought in for the occasion.

The Victorians loved their Christmases and they were merry occasions. Picture the flickering fires, the sparking trees, and the greenery decorations throughout the lovely homes.

On Christmas day, Mass was celebrated, and the church bells pealed out. They sang Christmas Carols.

You would find goose, chicken or roast beef on the Christmas dinner table (turkey was not served until the late 19th century), followed by Christmas Pudding, made with beef, raisins and prunes, and mincemeat pies. The mince pies were eaten for the 12 days of Christmas to ensure good luck for each of the 12 months in the coming year. According to superstition, each of the 12 pies had to be baked by a different person.

Victorians were sentimental enjoyed making their Christmas presents by hand, and the preparations started way in advance. As they worked on their gifts, they enjoyed pleasant thoughts of the one who would be receiving it. The sewing, cooking, canning of jams or jellies, or crafting of these gifts helped the Victorians enjoy their long winter evenings. Later in the Victorian period, however, store-bought items became more readily available and more popular.

The Victorian family opened its gifts either before or after breakfast, or after church or dinner. Many times they ate a quick breakfast while the father lit the tree candles in the parlor. Then the doors opened to a beautiful glowing scene of the Christmas tree surrounded by gifts.

Merry Christmas to all.

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