So many of the traditions we follow at Christmas today come from Victorian times!
Prince Albert popularised the decorating of a tree in England.
At the start of Victoria’s reign, toys were still handmade and very expensive, but mass production throughout the nineteenth century made it more and more affordable for middle class children to receive games, dolls, books or clockwork toys. A poor child would more likely have to be content with an orange or some nuts in their stocking.
Christmas crackers were invented in 1846 by Tom Smith, a London sweet maker, as a unique presentation for his sweeties. Crackers became more popular when he added love notes, paper hats, and of course the ingenious device that made them go Bang!
Boxing Day was so named because this was the day when servants and other workers received their “Christmas Box,” a gift of money from their employers.
This concoction of suet, breadcrumbs, raisins and spices known as the Christmas Pudding was stirred up at the beginning of Advent (it was lucky for everyone who had a stir, so even the privileged folk went down to the kitchens for this event) and boiled in beef broth on Christmas Day. Thimbles, rings and coins were sometimes put in the mixture - and the lucky person whose slice contained one of these charms would have good fortune.
I wonder how much of that ‘good fortune’ involved Victorian dentistry after cracking a tooth on a sixpence?