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The Victorian (re)invention of Christmas

November 20 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


While a few festive traditions have ancient origins, most of the things we associate with Christmas today were actually created by the Victorians. The nineteenth century saw the introduction of the Christmas tree, the Christmas card and the Christmas cracker and also witnessed the birth of modern Christmas consumerism.

The Victorians centred their Christmas traditions around the middle class home and family, and in particular the innocence of childhood. Christmas began to be imbued with feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality, while at the same time encouraging charity and sympathy for those less fortunate. These developments were fueled by the publication of successful Christmas carols, stories and poems, the most famous of which being ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.

Drawing on a variety of records held at The National Archives, this talk examines how some of our most treasured Christmas traditions developed in the Victorian era. It paints a picture of what Christmas was like for those at different levels of Victorian society—the poor, the rich and the middle class—and highlights the differences between the Victorian experience and our experience of Christmas today.

This talk will be delivered by Katherine Howells, Visual Collections Researcher, followed by a live Q&A.

This online talk will be presented on Microsoft Teams. You will be emailed an access link shortly before the event is due to start. For more information on attending a Teams event, please visit: https://bit.ly/3hWNWwn


November 20
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


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Emily Dutton
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