Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Christmas Celebrations 1820

We commonly say that the Victorians, and particularly Charles Dickens, created our Christmas celebrations. However, the more Christmases I research, and recount to you, through the newspapers of the pre-Victorian days the more I find them greatly similar to our own. And in 1820, as in 1805, 1806 and 1817, common threads appear. 

Morning Post - Wednesday 05 January 1820

Sun (London) - Thursday 13 January 1820

Celebrations of families and friends abounded, and if holidays were not as common then as now, the enjoyment of the festivities was certainly whole-hearted. There are not many period illustrations of the jollifications but this picture has wonderful details and evokes the spirit of the season and the era:

Christmas Eve by William Allan 1782-1850 Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums

 The nobility, the aristocrats, and the gentry, certainly entertained themselves well.

Star (London) - Wednesday 27 December 1820
Bagpipers Playing During Christmas Time, c.1820 - Michela De Vito, an Italian scene

Morning Post - Wednesday 05 January 1820

And of course, there were gifts, as many then as now. This advertisement details wonderful things I would like to see.

Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser - Saturday 30 December 1820

It appeared that Christmas in 1820 held to the truths written by Walter Scott in his1808 poem Marmion.   

"England was merry England, when / Old Christmas brought his sports again.
 'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale; / 'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
 A Christmas gambol oft could cheer / The poor man's heart through half the year."

In his illustration Mummers, published in 1836 in Thomas Hervey's The Book of Christmas, the artist Robert Seymour (1798-1836) displays the delights of a Christmas evening:

I hope that your Christmas and holiday season holds some such pleasures with family and friends despite our pandemic woes. Best Wishes...

'Til next time,