Archives and history news: festive edition!

The Victorians invented most of our most cherished Christmas traditions, but what was Christmas like for those excluded from these family-centred rituals, banished to workhouses, asylums and prisons? You can find out in my piece on Victorian Christmasses behind locked doors in Discover Your Ancestors magazine.

History writer Michelle Higgs is treating us to the ’12 days of Victorian Christmas cards’ over at her blog the Visitors guide to Victorian England. The cards range from the cute, to the beautiful to the downright weird!

A Victorian Christmas Card, from Michelle Higgs’ blog

In case you missed it, I wrote about the strange social and culinary history of mince pies, right on this very blog!

Historic Mince Pie designs

The BBC gives us four horrific and bizarre Victorian deaths at Christmas, for those who like their festivities a little macabre…

Watch out for that fire, Santa!

Moving forward in time, here’s a crazy Buzzfeed list (I know, I know, ok??!!) of horrific ‘vintage’ Christmas recipes. Trigger warning: I felt pretty nauseous just looking at them. But I wonder – did anyone ever actually cook and eat this stuff? If any of my ‘vintage’ readers can remember eating anything like this in Decembers past, I would be interested to know.

A shrimp Christmas tree. Yuk!

And finally, a soldier’s eye-witness account of the Christmas day truce has been uncovered for the first time. Second Lt Alfred Dougan Chater wrote:“I think I have seen today one of the most extraordinary sights that anyone has ever seen. About 10 o’clock this morning I was peeping over the parapet when I saw a German, waving his arms, and presently two of them got out of their trench and came towards ours.

“We were just going to fire on them when we saw they had no rifles, so one of our men went to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two lines of trenches was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a happy Christmas.”

If that doesn’t put you in the mood for a bit of festive peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind, nothing will.

Happy Christmas everyone.

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