Many of the traditions celebrated in the Victorian era are the same as traditions celebrated now. The tour of Eldon House allows you to learn the origin of the traditions you may celebrate this Christmas season.
Nicoletta Michienzi the museum’s curator says Christmas is her favourite time at Eldon House.
“It just smells great here at this time of year and everyone is so happy,” said Michienzi.
Make your way into the beautifully decorated library and learn of the origin of giving Christmas cards. Which Michienzi says was not very common in Canada at the time.
“If you’re going to go to a printing press and get it printed that’s a lot of effort and a lot of money, and if your’e going to send these Christmas cards to family in Europe it’s going to take quite a while,” said Michienzi.
A few Christmas stories are on display as well. The stories are still common today, such as ‘A Christmas Carol’.
The back of the house has a Christmas tree decorated Victorian style, with gifts of that time surrounding it.
The difference in a tree you would find in a modern home is how it is lit. Christmas trees today are decorated with lights, but in the Victorian era electricity was not invented yet.
“The Victorians would have had candles on their tree. Your tree wouldn’t have been standing up in your house for three weeks by the time you light the candles. You would have had your tree come in the house a couple days before Christmas, so it’s very fresh and wet so when you light the candles you’re not going to set it on fire,” said Michienzi.
Christmas trees were not native to Canada. They originated in Germany, and made their way into the British colonies after Prince Albert introduced the tradition to his family with Queen Victoria. A picture of the family surrounding a Christmas tree started the tradition in the homes of people today.
“We think of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton and how people want to emulate them in a way people did the same thing back then, but they took it to a new level,” said Michienzi.
Inside the marble fireplace is a yule log. Which would have been burned during the twelve days after Christmas, which is called epiphany.
“You would keep it lit for the twelve days after Christmas. The idea was that if it stayed lit it would bring luck into your household. You would save a piece of the log from that year, and next year when you put your new yule log in, you light it using the old piece. So you are carrying luck on from one year to the next,” said Michienzi.
Many more traditions can be learned about on the tour. A Victorian Christmas can be toured until January 1st. The museum tours are by donation, and are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.
“People love seeing how old traditions carry forth,” said Michienzi.
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