A mother plays the guitar while her two daught...

Image via Wikipedia

NOTE: I’ll start a little “series” containing texts about Christmas pantomime as seen in the Penny Illustrated Paper‘s pages during the XIXth century. Enjoy!

What exactly can be described as Christmassy? According to the Penny Illustrated Paper, the idea, as it should truly be defined, is “the festivity which Sir John Gilbert represents in our extra Christmas Supplement with all the rich pictorial effect and historical exactitude for which he is famous” (A Christmas Pantomime before Charles II, issue 693-4, 19 Dec. 1874, p. 402). Christmas, an old religious tradition with Germanic additions such as Father Christmas or the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree, meant a lot for the Victorian Londoners.
In rich circles – especially in noble families – celebrations would be mostly domestic and – during and after Boxing-Day – charity would be the key activity, especially for ladies. The poor, however, celebrated with the little they had, and most likely received the charity from the above mentioned. Middle-classes, of course, found themselves in-between and most of the time, tried to emulate the rich. Children loved Christmas, especially for the presents and entertainment programs created especially for them. Parents and guardians enjoyed the fact that these little future adults could get education through pleasure.
There is no wonder that a Christmas without snow, is like a pantomime without the Transformation Scene. If there is “seasonable weather,” such as in 1869’s Boxing Day, and with just enough snow (not too much, but not too little) to feel that Christmas is around most people are content. On the other hand, going out is not exactly the brightest idea, in fact the weather could turn out sharp enough to make “a brisk walk most exhilarating” (issue 431, 1 Jan. 1870, p. 10), while bicycles and velocipedes seem to provide a better means of transportation.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Be Sociable, Share!