Do you tend to think our ancestors were stogy and never did anything fun? You’re not alone. Those stereotypes are fueled by the serious looks people had in photographs and stories of families working from dawn to dusk.
The real story is that, yes, our ancestors worked harder than we do, but they also participated in a variety of leisure activities, dependent upon social class.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people increasingly had more free time thanks to modern inventions and shorter work days. Here’s how they spent their time:
Team sports and sports exhibitions were popular attractions. These included:
- Horse racing
- Ice skating
- Roller skating
For the first time, women were allowed to participate in sports, with doctors now aware of the value of exercise.
Men participated in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing.
Fairs and Amusement Parks
Circuses and traveling fairs provided an evening’s diversion.
The classic age of amusement parks was during the first decade of the 20th century These parks included such novelties as:
- Roller coasters
- Ferris wheels
- Games of chance
- Shoot the Chutes
Zoos also became popular among families. For most people, it would be their only opportunity to see exotic animals.
The Victorians and Edwardians had hobbies just like we do.
Popular hobbies and ways to spend time included:
- Going to the park
- Playing instruments
- Playing cards
Popular forms of entertainment included:
- Music halls
- Concerts, both of popular and classical music
- Magic shows
- Freak shows
High society attended the opera and theatre shows.
By the start of World War One, the movie house was added to the list.
Affluent families often retreated to a summer house for part of the year. Middle-class families could afford a vacation while for poor families, a day away might be all the time off they had to look forward to.
Which activity would you enjoy the most? Leave a comment below.
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