‘Twas a time before Christmas.
Unimaginable as it may seem, the holiday brought little more than a glad tiding or cup of good cheer. To unearth the origins of time-honored traditions held today requires a return to Victorian Christmases.
. . . To precisely one in particular. . . that of Ebenezer Scrooge.
A little Christmas book.
Selling out in three days’ time, Charles Dicken’s “little Christmas book” became a classic straightaway. Of a myriad of Things You Might Not Know About A Christmas Carol, its message of giving fostered convictions in the rich and inspired the classes from merely observing the holiday to celebrating it.
Speaking of old Ebenezer. . . .
You know Dasher & Dancer & Prancer & Vixen. But do you know where these yuletide traditions originated? – Click to Tweet
Prince Albert is to be accredited for popularising the Christmas tree. A beloved household tradition from his German homeland, the Tannenbaum stood in the Buckingham Palace every Christmastide.
In fact, each family member had a tree to call his own. Towering upon a table, gifts of splendor nestled underneath. While many of the packages contained luxurious articles such as a book of poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson or jewellery, a fresh gingerbread man always accompanied the young royal’s new treasures.
Where the custom kissing under the mistletoe originated remains quite a mystery. But the romantic symbolism has carried over many cultures. History.com sites how the Celtic Druids apportioned it medicinally to bring fertility, as they “came to view it as a sacred symbol of vivacity.”
Perhaps the closest explanation stems from Norse mythology. Revering the plant as a symbol of love, the goddess of love promised a kiss to anyone who passed beneath the leaves.
Such developed the tradition in Victorian England. Pairs caught under the mistletoe were to remove a berry for each kiss, not relinquishing until the plant was bare.
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The English Robin
More often than not, Victorian yuletide illustrations include a robin perched on Santa’s shoulder or nearby. Entertaining as folklore may be, the reason for it’s occurrence evolved from the resemblance of 18th century postmasters.
Dubbed with the moniker of “Robins” for their red-breasted coats, postmen delivered many Christmas packages during the holiday season. Great anticipation surrounded their visits. . . much like a visit from St. Nicholas.