Monday, December 3, 2018

Compliments of the Season -- Christmas 1815

1815 was a very good year. It heralded the end of the Napoleonic Wars that had troubled Europe for too many years. Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to Saint Helena, British soldiers and sailors had returned home; life surely would now improve.

Christmas of 1815 was celebrated as it had been for many years though, without the old traditions, with little fanfare, but quiet pleasures and substantial feasting. An excerpt from The Shepherd's Calendar by John Clare sets the scene:


GLAD Christmas comes, and every hearth
   Makes room to give him welcome now,
E’en want will dry its tears in mirth,
   And crown him with a holly bough;
Though tramping ’neath a winter sky,
   O’er snowy paths and rimy stiles,
The housewife sets her spinning by
   To bid him welcome with her smiles.

The Comic New Year's Budget of Song 1815 offered a seasonal illustration celebrating the year's successes:
The newspapers, as always, advertised gifts:
Bristol Mirror - Saturday 16 December 1815

Morning Post Sat 30 December 1815
Cookery books offered December table layouts that could very well be used for Christmas dinner service:
from The Universal Cook
 Such festivities were recorded in the Morning Post:
The costumes of the ladies for these festivities reflected the best trends from a Europe newly open to England:
English and French Fashions 1815 (Wikimedia Commons)
Fashion Plate 1815 - Austrian Hat and Pelisse (Wikimedia Commons)

The fashionable witzschoura, lavishly trimmed with squirrel, 1815 (Wikimedia Commons)
Royalty enjoyed themselves:
Morning Post, 30 December 1815
 And the season was summed up in a poem very typical of the era, pedantic and extravagant but determinedly rhyming.
Chester Chronicle - Friday 22 December 1815
I wish you and all your loved ones a Happy Christmas, a happy holiday season, and every good thing in the New Year!

'Til next time,