Have you ever stopped to think about the origins of many of the customs and traditions we hold dear? Most of these customs and traditions feel like they have been around forever, but many have existed for less than 200 years and originated with the Victorians.
Here are three notable examples. The list, however, goes on.
Couples have been pledging “until death do us part” for centuries, but it wasn’t until Queen Victoria married Prince Albert that it became fashionable to marry in a white wedding dress. Before the royal wedding, the fashion was for the bride to wear her best dress, no matter the color. This had practical considerations because the dress could be worn again.
The rhyme “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe” got its start as a way of reminding Victorian brides what they needed for their wedding. Each item either brought luck or symbolized a concept.
Christmas wasn’t elevated to the status of a major holiday until the 1840s. That’s also the decade when the royal family introduced Britain and the rest of the English speaking world to Christmas cards and Christmas trees.
The Christmas tree was borrowed from Prince Albert’s German homeland, while cards were created by an artist and made popular by the royals.
Christmas carols, which originated centuries earlier, were published in books and sang for fun.
In addition, the Victorians can be credited for the commercialization of Christmas. It was during this period that decorating the house became the popular thing to do at the holidays. Gift giving also became a staple of holiday celebrations. What began with simple, practical homemade gifts and foods moved to larger, store-bought items.
You can blame your increased waistline around the holidays on the Victorians, too. They were the ones who introduced holiday candies and who solidified what we consider a traditional Christmas dinner.
The Concept of Childhood
Finally, you can blame the Victorians for the privilege you had as a kid to be a kid.
Before this time, children were put to work at a young age, either in the home or at a workplace. Some of this was necessity, but some of it came from the belief that work saved children from evil.
Eventually, child-labor laws went into effect and children were required to attend school. Victorians had a strict concept of family, and childhood became viewed as an important part of a person’s development.
As children’s primary job became that of scholar, they were afforded time to play. The toy industry had its start, and both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were founded. Children’s literature was published for the first time.
The Victorians also invented the playground and children’s fashions.
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Updated: 14 October 2020
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