The hype around Christmas is stepping up a gear. There’s food to prepare, gifts to buy and family to manage. There’s only a few pay days left and the kids are starting to get excited. Before you start to panic, we’re looking at Christmas traditions of the past which may save you money.
The Victorians shaped Christmas as we know it. It’s down to them that we eat turkey, give Christmas cards, have Christmas crackers and decorate Christmas trees. But what else could we learn from them?
Christmas dinner is a stressful event whether you’re catering for two or 22! There’s the turkey, the pigs in blankets, the stuffing, not to mention the roast veg! Turkey wasn’t always the most popular dish, however. Victorians often ate roast goose or beef, whilst Georgians enjoyed swan. The Victorians started eating turkey instead of beef or goose as turkey provided enough meat to feed the whole family. It's nice to have the full works at Christmas, but try to buy realistic amounts of what you'll eat. Family sizes have decreased since then, so why not look at alternatives?
Alternatively, click here for thrifty Christmas dinner ideas.
The Victorians are known for their extravagant buildings, but when it comes to gifts these were actually very modest. Gifts given at the time included fruit, nuts, sweets and handmade items. These were then hung on the Christmas tree for decoration, to be eaten on Christmas day.
Why not create your own handmade gifts for family and friends? Recipes for edible Christmas decorations can be found here.
The Christmas cracker was created in 1847 by Tom Smith, who was looking for a new way to market his Bon - Bon sweets. These sweets were traditionally wrapped in a twist of paper and were very popular at Christmas. Smith wrapped the sweets in paper (creating the cracker) and then inserted another bit of paper which created the popping sound. He inserted poems and mottoes for parents to enjoy, whilst their children could enjoy the sweets and the Christmas cracker was invented!
Making your own crackers is a lot of fun and means you can personalise them for your family, whilst saving money too!
Christmas trees became popular in 1848, when a picture of Queen Victoria and her family standing around a Christmas tree was published in The Illustrated London News and soon, everyone had a tree! Trees during this period were decorated with paper chains, greenery and red ribbons.
Instead of spending money on expensive decorations that will go out of style next Christmas, why not buy cheap ribbon to decorate your tree? Scraps of paper can be used to create paper chains to decorate your tree and it’s a lot of fun!
The Georgians also used paper chains and ribbons to decorate their homes for Christmas. Holly, ivy, mistletoe, and candles were also used to create the festive spirit in the home.
However, remember, the Edwardians put their trees up on Christmas eve as it was viewed as tacky to put them up sooner.
The Edwardians, already used to making their own clothes, made their own stockings at Christmas to hang on the hearth to be filled with goodies. You can make your own stockings too, here’s how:
Who remembers getting an orange for Christmas? This tradition was sparked by the Victorians, who used clementines. Clementines only began to be grown in California during the Victorian era, so receiving fruit was a rare treat. These were placed at the bottom of stockings as an extra surprise for children. Why not use fruit as a stocking filler for your kids?
Getting the family together for Christmas dinner is bound to cause dramas. Entertaining all the family for 24- 48 hours is stressful, especially when you have to cook Christmas dinner, so why not look to the Victorians and Georgians? Games such as cards, hunt the slipper and blind man’s bluff were popular, whilst they also enjoyed carol singing, story- telling and dancing. In fact, if you’re feeling really brave, the Victorians stood round the piano and sang Christmas carols - why not have a family sing song...? Perhaps not.
Alternatively, just do an Oliver Cromwell and cancel Christmas all together. Cromwell banned Christmas carols, made Christmas day a work day and even declared that anyone caught cooking a goose or baking Christmas cake would be fined.. Bah humbug indeed!