Christmas – Where did it all begin?

Origins can be traced back as far as the Roman times, even before the birth of Christ! Festivities and demonstrations of goodwill were shown from 17-25thDecember when no-one could be punished for minor crimes and plentiful food was indulged many.

We all know that Christmas is a Christian tradition celebrated throughout the country (and the world!) to signify the birth of Jesus, but when did the Yuletide traditions that we are familiar with start in Britain? We’ll delve back in history to find the answer.

Until more recent history, Christmas wasn’t widely celebrated in the country. Can you imagine a year without Christmas in modern life? Christmas was banned by pagan Oliver Cromwell in 1645! Thankfully, it was restored again by Charles II and the celebration gradually grew in popularity.

So when did Christmas as we know it begin to be celebrated in most households, I hear you ask? The Victorian period! Thanks to Albert and Victoria, who publicly displayed their tree in the paper, we all have adorned shrubs in the living room every year. Have a read all about the Christmas tree here.

In fact, decoration in the home really took off during the Victorian period and families competed to have the best-dressed abodes. Gift giving and the sending of cards also became popular affairs and carols, although sung previously, were now commonplace in the community around this time of year.

Another important part of many peoples’ merriments is indulging in copious amounts of Christmas dinner (normally turkey) which became ordinary for families in the early 20th Century. Family also became the focus of revels during this time, and what would Christmas be without bickering amongst siblings!?

Finally, “A Christmas Carol” written by Dickens and published in 1843, helped spread the word of charity and goodwill towards all humankind. This message resonated strongly with many folk and is a Christmas-time feeling that has stuck through the ages.

So, although the Romans started the festivity, it is largely thanks to the Victorians that Christmas remains one of the biggest events on the calendar for many. Have a browse of our festive costumes and plan your party gear now before you run out of time! If it’s Victorian inspired dress that takes your fancy, check out our steampunk section.