Upon coming across a book entitled Christmas Past: A Selection from Victorian Magazines compiled by Dulcie M. Ashdown in my library, I have recently become fascinated with the Christmas of the Victorian era. The Victorians essentially created the Christmas that we know and celebrate today. From our idea of Santa Claus to the Christmas cards we send to our family and friends, Christmas would not be as we know the holiday without the Victorians.
The first commercial Christmas cards appeared during the middle of the nineteenth century. For an interesting description of the production of holiday cards during the Victorian era, I suggest reading “How the Christmas Cards Are Made” as published in Cassell’s Family Magazine. Like much of the writing of the time, the description is filled with the whimsical. However, the information within the flowery writing is definitely interesting. Here is the full text of the piece:
Two of the facts that I find most interesting include the following:
“Accompanying a guide to a lower room, where men and boys only are employed, we see a number of great, heavy, creamy-coloured stones, like the flags using for paving, but much thicker, and with one side exquisitely smooth. These are German lithographic stones, and on closer inspection we find them covered with designs.” Many Christmas cards produced during the Victorian era were created through the art of lithography.
“Passing up-stairs once more, we are led into the room where so many girls are busy, some making the packets, but the great portion at much more elaborate work….One girl here has before her a number of cards with so many pretty borders, but blank in the centre. Over this blank place she fits a pretty design in lace-paper, which is made to stand away from the base by four paper springs, formed by doubled strips of the width of narrow tape.” More elaborate Victorian Christmas cards were handmade.
The Christmas cards of the Victorian era were largely stunning and beautifully-made. Boy has the creation of Christmas cards changed! The cards that I ordered this year, although unique and personalized, just cannot compare to some of the handmade cards created by the Victorians. (Regardless, I think my Christmas cards are pretty neat!) Learning about the ways in which Christmas cards used to be made was surely enlightening.
The Making of Victorian Christmas Cards: A Look into Christmases Past: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsidepictures/6529392615/ (CC BY-NC 2.0) and https://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsidepictures/6529393201/ (CC BY-NC 2.0)
How the Christmas Cards Are Made 1 © The Parenting Patch
How the Christmas Cards Are Made 2 © The Parenting Patch
How the Christmas Cards Are Made 3 © The Parenting Patch
How the Christmas Cards Are Made 4 © The Parenting Patch