A Dickensian Delight: Celebrating Christmas Victorian Style

A Dickensian Delight: Celebrating Christmas Victorian Style

As the holiday season approaches, many of us are busy making plans to celebrate with our loved ones, exchange gifts, and indulge in festive traditions. But have you ever wondered what Christmas was like during the Victorian era? A Victorian Christmas was a time of opulence, tradition, and a touch of the magical. In this blog post, we'll take you on a journey back in time to explore the enchanting world of Christmas in the 19th century.

Published on 20 November 2023

Deck the Halls

One of the most iconic symbols of a Victorian Christmas is the Christmas tree. Popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were depicted with their family around a beautifully adorned tree in an engraving for the Illustrated London News in 1848, the Christmas tree became a fashionable addition to every well-to-do Victorian household.

Victorian Christmas trees were adorned with a wide array of decorations, including candles (a far cry from today's electric lights), hand-crafted ornaments, and edible treats like apples and sweets. Tinsel made from real silver and glass baubles added a touch of sparkle to these festive trees.


The Feast

The Christmas feast during the Victorian era was a grand affair. Traditional dishes included roast goose, turkey, or a succulent joint of beef. For dessert, the centerpiece was the Christmas pudding, often made with 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his 12 disciples. The pudding was often served with a sprig of holly, which was said to bring good luck to the person who found it in their serving.

Another cherished Victorian tradition was the Yule log, a large log of wood that would burn throughout the night, symbolising the warmth and light of the season. Sometimes, a small piece of the Yule log was kept from year to year to light the next year's log, continuing the tradition.


Christmas Gifts

The Victorian era was a time when the giving of gifts became a central part of the holiday celebration. In the early 19th century, homemade gifts and small tokens of affection were common. As the century progressed, the tradition of exchanging presents evolved into a more elaborate affair.

Gifts during a Victorian Christmas included handmade crafts, keepsakes, and books. The notion of Christmas cards also originated during this time, with the first commercial Christmas card designed by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. These cards featured intricate designs, often depicting festive scenes, and were meticulously crafted.


Carolling and Charitable Acts

Carolling was a beloved pastime during a Victorian Christmas. Groups of carollers would visit homes, singing traditional Christmas carols and spreading holiday cheer. Christmas charity was also a significant part of the Victorian ethos. Many charitable organisations and individuals made it a priority to help those less fortunate during the holiday season, an idea beautifully exemplified in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."



A Victorian Christmas was a time of elegance, tradition, and deep appreciation for the holiday spirit. While some customs have evolved and modernised, the spirit of togetherness, the joy of gift-giving, and the importance of spreading goodwill remain at the heart of the Christmas season.

This holiday season, take a moment to appreciate the rich history and enduring traditions that have shaped the way we celebrate Christmas today. Whether you're enjoying a festive feast, decorating a beautifully adorned tree, or singing carols with friends and family, you're participating in a tradition that has been cherished for generations, making Christmas a timeless and magical holiday.