We might be reluctantly dipping our toes into autumn, but one thing is certain – Christmas is looming around the corner and there’s no escaping it! Now be honest – does that fill you with joy, excitement or a sense of impending doom? Let’s face it, Christmas is really special when you’re a child – the trick is to cling onto that magical feeling despite the pressures and cost involved in creating it! And we do go a little crazy don’t we – whereas nuts and dried fruit were once the typical presents, a family will now spend average £796 on gifts according to a recent YouGov survey.
Strange to think that before the 19th Century we didn’t even celebrate Christmas – in fact many of our festive traditions came from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. In 1848 the Illustrated London News (Victorian Britain’s version of ‘Hello’) featured a drawing of Queen Victoria and family around a decorated tree like the ones Prince Albert remembered from his German childhood. Suddenly every home had a tree with candles, sweets, fruit, homemade decorations and small gifts. But they kept it simple – most of the gifts were homemade – after all a bit of cross-stitch or carving can go a long way when you don’t have Toys R Us or Amazon! Towards the end of the 19th Century, well-off Victorian families could buy games, dolls, books and clockwork toys thanks to the creation of factories in the UK. Poorer children had to be happy with an apple, orange and a few nuts in their stocking.
Nowadays, if the commercialism of Christmas leaves you cold and the obligatory John Lewis advert fails to warm the cockles of your heart, don’t despair. Look beneath the mountains of wrapping paper and the central message is the same – themes of family, charity, goodwill, peace and happiness still endure.
And if you really hanker to experience life in Victorian England, don’t forget we offer the chance to step back in time with our London Dungeon Christmas Parties. Perhaps after meeting those dodgy Victorian villains you’ll be convinced that life today isn’t quite so bad after all!