Many of the traditions and legends we naturally accepted with Christmas today took their roots with how people began to celebrate in the Victorian Era.

The Industrial Revolution in England helped Christmas reach more homes in the Victorian Era, an influence we still see today in our holiday decorating, cards we send, and traditions we hold dear.
Queen Victoria and her family set the example of the ideal family unit, with children, presents and times at home.
The Victorian era and mass production helped fuel what we see today in the holiday market.
One very Victorian tradition was the Christmas card. A process called chromolithographic reproduction aided the mass production of the Christmas card, and it made this product more affordable for the average person. Scenes of religious depictions, nature, snow and the season adorned beautiful cards that could be sent, via post, to relatives and friends far and wide.
Instead of time-consuming letters and hand-rendered depictions, one could send a mass produced card over and over with ease.
The tradition of sending a card had begun.
Industrialization of the era caused more of the middle class to have disposable income.
Due to this new concept in households, there was a rise in the mass market for toys, decorations, and trinkets of all kinds.
The Christmas cracker, or cookie, was inspired by French sweets wrapped in paper, and was first invented by Tom Smith, a candy store owner in England in the 1840s.
The first Christmas cookies coming out of this era included a prize inside, like whistles, dolls and small jewelry items.
They were very popular during a Victorian Christmas, and holiday cookies are still enjoyed today.
Queen Victoria and her family gave the example of family and close ties at Christmas, and with the railway system created by the revolution of industry, more and more workers and people in outlying areas were able to go home to see loved ones for Christmas.
This promoted bringing gifts that were bought in stores, produced by mass machines invented, as well, by the Industrial Revolution.
Going home for the holidays is still a popular theme in today’s world, and we have the Victorians to thank for this tradition and nostalgia.
The Christmas tree and the decorating of such a thing started with the queen and her husband decorating their tree, in depictions that were widely seen in publications, with their nine children and a large tree being adorned.
Prince Albert introduced the custom and enjoyed it immensely.
The custom of bringing a tree indoors to decorate began in Germany, Albert’s birthplace, and he carried that tradition into British custom.
The custom grew quickly and was popular because of the example of the epitome of idealized family life, coupled with the longing to spend time with loved ones at holiday times.
The influence of happy times around a tree stuck in the hearts and minds of the people wanting to copy their royal example.
Mechanisms and machines began to produce all sorts of holiday decorations, and they became available to a wider market.
The first advertisements for tree ornaments began appearing in publications in the 1850s.
Brightly colored and reflective objects were perfect backdrops to candles and their shimmering lights, since candles were tied to branches with colorful ribbons and adorned with pictures, mementos and mass-produced images.
The exchanging of gifts became prominent in the Victorian era. In the beginning of Victorian times, Christmas celebrations were unheard of, and gifts were given at New Year’s.
The influence and pressure of buying, selling and giving created more exchanges at Christmas, and the New Year’s tradition of gift giving switched to Christmas.
The poor still filled stockings with nuts and sweets, a tradition we continue to this day in one form, although more massed produced and manufactured gifts fill modern stockings.
The Victorians and the Queen’s family set an example of what a Christmas holiday tradition should be, and many of those traditions we follow in modern times exist today due to the Industrial Revolution in England.
Handmade items and simple giving gave way to industrialized, mass produced items to adorn, feed and comfort loved ones at holiday times, and books like Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” influenced people to give to the poor and less fortunate members of society at the holiday season.
As you decorate your tree this holiday season, remember the Victorians and their traditions.
(Editor’s note: DeeDee Wood is the store manager at Tharpe Antiques, in Easton, part of the Talbot Historical Society.)