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Christmas Games for Everybody: Suggestions from the Victorians

Christmas Games for Everybody: Suggestions from the Victorians

I am absolutely fascinated by the Christmases celebrated by the Victorians. While working at the library a few weeks ago, the book Christmas Past: A Selection from Victorian Magazines compiled by Dulcie M. Ashdown crossed my desk. As a lover of the Christmas season, I immediately began reading. So far I have learned how the Victorians threw and catered holiday parties for children and how Christmas cards were made during the time period. Today I learned about some fun games that used to be played at Victorian Christmas parties.

“Christmas Games for Everybody” as published in Cassell’s Family Magazine was written by Phillis Browne, a woman who I consider an early mommy blogger. (Her medium may have been printed magazines as opposed to a digital blog, but her content would be right at home about my fellow parenting bloggers today.) Phillis offers a number of game suggestions that could still be used as holiday party entertainment today.

Many of the games suggested in “Christmas Games for Everybody” are familiar staples nowadays. For example, “Twenty Questions,” “Simon” (“Simon Says”), and “Musical Chairs” are known by almost every child in this day and age. The game “Dumb Crambo sounds extremely similar to “Charades.” Other games are less well-known but could definitely still be played in this day and age. Here is the full text of the piece for my readers who are interested in learning more about the games played at Victorian parties:

Christmas Games for Everybody 1 Christmas Games for Everybody 2 Christmas Games for Everybody 3

I will suggest you avoid “Snapdragon.” Here is the description that Phillis offers:

“When this pastime is decided upon, a number of raisins are put into a large, broad, shallow bowl, and a little brandy or other spirit is poured over the fruit. The lights in the room are then extinguished, the spirit is ignited, and the bystanders in turns plunge their hands through the flames and endeavor to obtain possession of the fruit.”

Something about plunging my hand into an alcoholic fire just seems more dangerous than seasonal!

Image Credits

Christmas Games for Everybody: Suggestions from the Victorians: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tim_ellis/1950336718/ (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Christmas Games for Everybody 1 © The Parenting Patch
Christmas Games for Everybody 2 © The Parenting Patch
Christmas Games for Everybody 3 © The Parenting Patch

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