The Wonder Adventures Family learn about family Christmas traditions from Victorian times...what did we learn about ourselves and our Christmas and the traditions that are important to us today...
As a family who have run and sold children’s Christmas events, activities and products for many years; when we were asked to take part in Channel 5’s ‘Our Victorian Christmas’ as the family to experience what it was like to live as a family at Christmas during Victorian times then we were thrilled and excited and it couldn’t have been more appropriate!
Not only is our business heavily Christmas focussed, as a family Christmas is an important time for us; from the decorations, food, festive activities and family time; we are big on Christmas and all the traditions that come with it.
So what we did we learn from being part of this programme?
1/ Our Christmas traditions are fundamentally not that different over 100 years on; our favourite Christmas activities involve food, decorations, singing and most importantly being together as a family. Pretty much all of these formed part of the Victorian traditions. Yes the food was a bit more weird (ox tongue mince pies – surprisingly tasty!)and the decorations much more basic and very time consuming to create but then time was much more available then. There were fewer distractions, far fewer leisure pursuits on offer and people were generally at home much more when not working and so what else was there to do than spend a whole evening making holly berries out of red wax!
I actually really enjoyed sitting and taking my time doing craft activities with the kids. Being able to take time and care and feel proud of creating something simple with my hands was actually quite therapeutic! And being able to chat easily to one another and share the creative making experience together was fantastic for connection and great quality time together. This made me consider having some craft evenings together with the older children as its a good opportunity to spend some time with them without other distractions and being creative together is good for the brain and soul!
2/ We take it for granted how easy we have it! Especially with respect cooking and preparing food. All of our modern utensils make it a singe to make Christmas dinner compared to what they used to do! I’ll never moan about it being a hassle to make a Christmas dinner again!
3/ Kids can be so delighted with simple pleasures. Charlie (age 5) was given a sock full of nuts and sweets – all shapes and sizes. Rather than asking where the toys were (as we thought he would) he was delighted with it; it was so novel for him. He spent ages counting out all the nuts and sorting them into size order! and then when he asked is he could take hit home and have the sweets you’d have thought he’d been given a big bunch of toys; he was delighted! The sweets were the most basic sweets but because he’d not had those type before he was so excited to get them! He doesn’t go short at home; so it just shows that kids don’t always need all the ‘stuff’ that we think they need or indeed they ‘think’ they need because they are mimicking what is around them.
4/ Games were largely about activities and imagination; they didn’t have pre packed games in the same way and so games were created with their imaginations and nothing other than what they had. We had so much fun doing these games and it makes you realise that nowadays we too often go to something that has been ‘created for us’ rather than using our imagination and minds to create fun and games. And actually as the Victorians were responsible for so many great inventions, clearly they were more used to coming up with new ideas, being creative and trusting their imagination to create things. There is a lot we can learn from that and encourage our children in their use of imagination and new ideas. Asking the kids to come up with a game for Christmas Day is a great idea and something they would love!
5/ Traditions are things that can span generations and can create a real feeling of comfort within a family. There are Christmas traditions that I remember from being a kid that we do now; and to realise that they actually go back to over 100 years ago; such as singing carols; makes you feel warm and fuzzy about the world and how long a legacy can stay and make a difference. When the most popular carols of Victorian times were written (The First Noel for example) the writer didn’t realise we would still sing and enjoy these all these years later; with them forming a firm foundation for Christmas of the future. It makes you think about our creations today and what legacy they might leave in the future. Another important reason to use our imaginations and encourage our children to be creative take risks and explore new ideas!
All in all, being part of a Victorian Christmas was an experience we all thoroughly enjoyed. It was fantastic to have quality time together as a family, enjoying the simple pleasures that life has to offer; family time, food, singing, games and using our hands to make and create things. It serves as a reminder for the things that are really important at Christmas time; which in the midst of the craziness as parents of kids, it’s easy to forget!
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