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A Victorian Guide to Entertaining at Christmas

A Victorian Guide to Entertaining at Christmas

I am intrigued by the notion of Christmas created by the Victorians. All of my favorite nostalgic aspects of the holiday season originated during the Victorian era. The Christmas tree, Christmas cards, Christmas dinner — the Victorians created our modern vision of the holiday.

While reading the book Christmas Past: A Selection from Victorian Magazines compiled by Dulcie M. Ashdown, an article by Ardern Holt entitled “How to Entertain at Christmas” caught my attention, not because the ideas and suggestions were unique or foreign, but because entertaining during the holiday season over a hundred years ago still sounds pretty similar to entertaining today.

One of my favorite aspects of Christmas is all the beautiful decorations. A Christmas party is not a Christmas party without a Christmas tree, pretty lights, and sparkling garlands. Back in the Victorian era, Christmas decorations were equally important:

“The house must be cheerful, the ruling power animated. It is worth while to bestow some little trouble on the decorations of the rooms. Having plenty of shiny holly, and laurel too, and don’t omit the mistletoe, for we have long ago forgotten all about the paganism, magic, and superstition which surrounded it, and have relegated it to scenes of social merriment.”

Hot drinks are also a favorite during the holiday season, both in the present and in the past. “How to Entertain at Christmas” offers a recipe for egg wine, which is supposed to be delightful while enjoying the brisk weather outside during fun activities such as ice skating:

“Beat up two eggs, and add a little cold water; boil one pint of elder wine with spice, then beat all well together, pouring from one vessel to the other, replace it on the fire till it boils, and drink when quite hot.”

For more tips for entertaining during a fun Victorian Christmas, check out “How to Entertain at Christmas”:

How to Entertain at Christmas 1 How to Entertain at Christmas 2 How to Entertain at Christmas 3

How do you entertain during the holidays?

Image Credits

A Victorian Guide to Entertaining at Christmas: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisotruro/23453372314/ (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
How to Entertain at Christmas 1 © 2012 Heather Johnson
How to Entertain at Christmas 2 © 2012 Heather Johnson
How to Entertain at Christmas 3 © 2012 Heather Johnson

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