Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Origins of the Christmas We Enjoy Today; HOW OUR CUSTOMS DATE FROM VICTORIAN TIMES, BY AUDREY GLASGOW, DISCOVERY MUSEUM

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Origins of the Christmas We Enjoy Today; HOW OUR CUSTOMS DATE FROM VICTORIAN TIMES, BY AUDREY GLASGOW, DISCOVERY MUSEUM

Article excerpt

Byline: NOSTALGIA DAVE MORTON recalls the people and places of the North East @

IN Britain, our Christmas traditions are so closely linked with the holiday itself that you might think the traditions we practice now have been around as long as the holiday has existed.

But most of them have been here for less than 200 years. Many of us decorate the tree, send cards to loved ones, pull Christmas crackers, and receive gifts from Santa. These traditions have grown into integral parts of celebrating Christmas, despite being relatively new.

|Christmas Trees: The Christmas tree tradition began in England with Prince Albert, when he brought the traditional German 'Tannenbaum' to Windsor Castle. An etching of the Royal family celebrating Christmas around the tree was published by Illustrated London News in 1848.

Soon every fashionable household had to have one. In the early days, they were decorated with lit candles (a real danger!), natural decorations like pine cones and dried fruit, scraps of ribbon and brightly coloured trinkets, sweets, and small presents like toy soldiers and dolls.

|Christmas Cards The first Christmas card in Britain was designed by John Callcott Horsley in 1843 for Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882). The card depicted a well-to-do family celebrating, and to either side the charities of feeding and clothing the poor (charity for the less fortunate is another Christmas tradition that comes from the Victorian period, influenced by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol).

Horsley's cards were sold for a shilling, putting them out of the price range of the poorer Victorian. But the sentiment was picked up quickly, and children were encouraged to make their own Christmas cards.

By the 1880s, sending Christmas cards was extremely popular, with 11.5 million cards produced in 1880 alone. The reduction of postage from one penny (introduced in 1840) to a halfpenny (1870) meant that even more Victorians could participate in this Christmas tradition.

|Christmas Crackers Christmas crackers were invented by Thomas Smith, a London confectioner, in 1848. He had seen Paris confectioners sell bonbons (sugared almonds) wrapped in twists of paper. …

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