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A Very Dickens Christmas

Updated on September 14, 2013

Old Fashioned Victorian Era Dickens Style Christmas Traditions


oasted chestnuts, Christmas punch, figgy pudding, holly and ivy. An old fashioned Victorian Dickens-style Christmas calls for rich family traditions, decorating and fun from bygone days. Get the whole family involved in creating a warm, cozy Christmas never to be forgotten.

Background of Victorian Christmas Traditions

Simply Fancy

The Victorian Era refers to the 1837 to 1901 rule of Britain's Queen Victoria. The works of Dickens fall within this time period and are rich in the Christmas traditions of the times.

Generally thought of as a prosperous time because of the effects of the Industrial Revolution, there were still the very rich and very poor, both reflected in Dickens' fiction. But one thing is certain, rich and poor were ready to celebrate the season to the best of their ability.

Elaborate preparations were made with simple materials. Halls were decked with local greenery of every kind. Fruits, nuts and homemade paper decorations adorned Christmas trees. Gifts were often homemade, because of humble circumstances, or because giving of oneself and ones talents was highly valued and most meaningful.

Victorian Christmas

Victorian Christmas
Victorian Christmas

Charles Dickens ~ A Victorian Gentleman

Charles Dickens Page

Everything You Could Ever Want to Know About Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens literature is the inspiration for this Victorian Christmas lens. Here are two excellent resources on his life.

My article on Charles Dickens' Life is a condensed but unique summary of Charles Dickens. I think you'll enjoy the brief tour.

David Perdue's Charles Dickens Page has everything you could possibly ever want to know about Charles Dickens, his world, and the world around him. It even contains Charles Dickens' genealogy and a map of London marked with all the places featured in Charles Dickens' books and stories.

Victorian Christmas Recipes

Right Out of Dickens' Christmas Carol

An old fashioned English Victorian Christmas usually meant roast beef of some kind, but humbler households had wild game or fowl. Chestnuts were roasted in the shell until they popped open. Several potato and vegetable dishes were prepared. Cakes, puddings and pies abounded.

Figgy Pudding

1 cup suet

1 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons rum

1 apple peeled, cored and finely chopped

1 pound dried figs, ground or finely chopped

Grated peel of 1 lemon and 1 orange

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 large egg whites, stiffly beaten

Grease a two-quart mold.

Cream together butter and shortening. Gradually add sugar, egg yolks, milk, extract, apple, figs, lemon and orange peel. Add next 6 ingredients, mixing well. Fold stiffly beaten egg whites into mixture.

Pour into two-quart buttered bowl or mold and place into large shallow pan and steam for four hours.

Custard Sauce

2 cups milk

1 large egg

3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon butter

In saucepan, scald milk and allow to cool.

Mix together remaining ingredients, except for butter. Add to cooled milk. Cook over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, mixing well.

Serve pudding warm with custard sauce or sweetened whipped cream.

Christmas Plum Pudding

1/2 pound beef suet

1 cup flour

1/2 pound raisins (stoned)

1/2 pound currants

2 ounces citron, cut fine

1 cup sugar

Grated rind of 1 lemon

2 cups flour

2 level teaspoonsful baking powder

1/4 teaspoonful each, ground cloves and cinnamon

1/2 teaspoonful each mace and salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup sweet milk

Sift together three times the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Chop fine the suet, mixing it with the cup of flour; add the fruit, sugar, lemon rind, and the flour mixure together. Mix this thoroughly, then stir in the eggs beaten very light and mixed with the milk. The mixture should be quite stiff. Steam six hours in a butterred, two-quart mold. Serve with hard or liquid sauce. Chopped figs or dates and nuts may be used in place of the fruit mentioned.

Rum Sauce

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

2 egg whites

3 tablespoons rum

1/2 cup beaten cream

Mix sugar, yolks and rum, then the stiffly beaten whites. Cook until thick; add the beaten cream. Chill and serve.

Traditional Yorkshire Pudding

2 cups milk

5 eggs

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup hot beef fat or roast drippings

Preheat the oven to 375.

Place the milk, eggs, flour, and salt in the blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, you may use a food processor or mix the ingredients until smooth in a mixer or with a wire whisk.

Pour the drippings into a 9 x 13" shallow glass baking dish or a 12" cast iron pan. Put the pan in the preheated oven for a few minutes to insure that the oil is hot, then remove from the oven and immediately pour the smooth batter into the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake 30-45 minutes or until puffed and brown.

Serve with roast beef, mashed potatoes, and beef gravy.

Victorian Candy Recipes

Sugared Rose Petals, Violets, etc.

Boil 1/2 lb. sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 4 drops lemon juice to the brittle stage. Stir until cool, but still liquid. Then dip rose leaves in this syrup, stirring them well. Take out the leaves and lay on waxed paper to dry. Violets and other edible flowers may also be candied in this manner.

Candied Mint Leaves

Cut a quantity of fresh mint leaves from the stems and clean thoroughly. Then beat the white of an egg until stiff, and brush over each leaf. Then take a cup of granulated sugar, flavored with 15 drops oil of spearmint, and dip the egg-coated mint leaves in the sugar. Place them on waxed paper and dry in a slow oven.

Frosted Gum Drops/>

4 level Tablespoons unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup cold water

4 cups granulated sugar

Food colorings

Flavoring extracts

Soak gelatin in the cold water for five minutes, then stir in the boiling water until perfectly dissolved. Add sugar and boil 25 minutes, counting from time boiling begins, and stirring constantly or it will stick and burn. Turn syrup into four containers. When cool, flavor one with lemon and do not color. Color one with green and flavor with mint or wintergreen. Color one red and flavor with clove or cherry or raspberry. Color one with pink and flavor with rose (or other desired colors and flavors). Pour each in a small pan or candy molds which have been dipped in cold water and let stand overnight in a cold place. Cut in cubes with a knife dipped in boiling water, or unmold. Roll each gum drop in granulated sugar until well coated. Set aside for two days to crystallize.

Lemon Drops

Into one cup of powdered sugar stir just enough strained lemon juice to dissolve the sugar. Cook without stirring to the brittle stage. Drop from spoon tip on sugared (with granulated sugar) platter, sprinkling the tops as well, and set away to cool and harden.

Chocolate Flavored Turkish Delight

3 Level tablespoonfuls of granulated gelatine

1/2 C cold water

2 C sugar

2/3 cup of cold water

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 squares premium chocolate

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 C French candied fruit, cherries, angelica, citron, etc. chopped fine

Let the gelatin stand in the half cup of cold water until it has taken up all of the water. Stir the sugar and the 2/3 C of cold water over the fire until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is boiling, then add the gelatin and let cook twenty minutes. Add the cinnamon, the chocolate, melted over hot water, and beat all together. Then add the vanilla and the fruit. Let stand in a cool place for a time, then when it thickens a little turn into an unbuttered bread pan and set aside until the next day. To unmold, separate the paste from the pan at the edge with a sharp pointed knife. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top, then with the tips of the fingers gently pull the paste from the pan to a board dredged with confectioner's sugar. Cut into strips, then into small squares. Roll each square in confectioner's sugar. In cutting keep sugar between the knife and the paste.

Make Your Own Victorian Christmas

Handmade Victorian Christmas Tree Ornaments

Old Fashioned Family Fun Activity

Victorian Christmas trees were mostly decorated with handmade paper ornaments. Pages were cut from magazines and catalogs and pasted or decoupaged and embellished with lace and ribbons. Fans and chains were assembled, and popped corn strung. Pinecones, fruit, nuts and other natural elements also adorned the tree.

What a great way to repurpose leftover fabrics, papers, ribbons, and art supplies. Kids love to create original Christmas decorations. To make it authentically Victorian, do a search online for free images to print out.

Victorian House Style Sourcebook

Victorian House Style Handbook
Victorian House Style Handbook

This pocket source book is bursting with images of original and well restored Victorian features, making it the ideal handy reference for the home owner. The Victorian House Style Sourcebook is perfect for trips to the architectural salvage yard or DIY store to identify authentic styles and colors, or simply to dip into to enjoy the best of Victorian design. It contains a room-by-room tour of Victorian homes, covering everything from grand opulence to modest dwellings. Beautifully illustrated throughout, with design details such as close-ups of fabrics and wallpaper, this book is a must have for anyone who enjoys Victorian style.


Victorian Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes

Victorian Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes
Victorian Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes

Grade 4-6-Children can experience Victorian New York through more than 30 fun activities. The sections center on the lives of two fictional families: the Kadinskys, who have recently arrived from Poland, and the wealthy Hobarts. Snippets of historical information on home life, school, street vendors, settlement houses, inventions, the changing role of women, and the "Gay Nineties" are interspersed with detailed directions for the projects. The book is arranged by seasons, and follows the families through the year 1893. Crafts include paper flowers, shadow puppets, decorating Easter eggs, Polish checkers, embroidered bookmarks, a seashell display case, a decoupage box, a tin-can telephone, a Victorian folding fan, and Christmas ornaments. A bounty of fun recipes includes biscuits, cinnamon bread sticks, deviled eggs, corn oysters, New York cheesecake, rock-candy crystals, holiday fruit punch, and candy-cane sundaes.


Victorian Christmas: Source Book With 10 Projects : 75 Victorian Scraps Plus Four Christmas Cards

Victorian Christmas: Source Book With 10 Projects : 75 Victorian Scraps Plus Four Christmas Cards
Victorian Christmas: Source Book With 10 Projects : 75 Victorian Scraps Plus Four Christmas Cards

With 18 sheets of embossed die-cut paper scraps packaged together with a 48-page source book, this nifty package provides step-by-step instructions for 10 projects, and even gives you the paper motifs with which to make them. The technique is basically a variant of decoupage, but most of the cutting has already been done for you. As Victorian Christmas explains, the lovely scraps can be used to decorate a cookie tin, pie platter, table centerpiece, wassail bowl, potpourri jar, or your own decorations. Sprinkled throughout are beautiful photographs and paragraphs explaining various Victorian customs, such as the traditions of gift-giving, card-making, and tree-decorating


Victorian Ornaments & Decorations

Baldwin 4- inch Victorian Lamp Post Ornament

Baldwin 4- inch Victorian Lamp Post Ornament
Baldwin 4- inch Victorian Lamp Post Ornament

Baldwin 4- inch Victorian Lamp Post Ornament

Solid brass, finished in sparkling 24-karat gold

It takes 17 pairs of hands to create each keepsake before you touch the piece. Each is hand-assembled and packaged in an elegant gift box for gift-giving or collecting.

Keepsakes Etched InTime

BALDWIN is a registered trademark of The Black & Decker Corporation, under license by the ChemArt Company

Baldwin design has always been the benchmark for quality and craftsmanship. The Baldwin ornament collection embraces those attributes whether whimsical or elegant, simple or intricate. Baldwin collectibles - miniature masterpieces - are always appropriate for gift-giving and collecting through the year. Made of solid brass, and finished in sparkling 24 karat gold or silver plate, these keepsakes are truly works of art proudly made in the USA. Beauty, elegance,artistry


ShalinCraft Homemade Gift Ideas - Paper Mache Bells Size: 2 inches x 3.4 inches

Christmas Decor Paper Mache Ornaments Hanging Bells Size: 2 inches x 3.4 inches
Christmas Decor Paper Mache Ornaments Hanging Bells Size: 2 inches x 3.4 inches

Made in paper mache and painted by hand.

Size: 2 inches x 3.4 inches

Use them as decoration items. Set of 15 pieces.

Cre by artisans of Kashmir valley.

Shipped in 48 hours through courier from Gurgaon in India (pm029a)


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Beautifully done lens. Somehow Victorian decorations always seem to be more "Christmassy" than other types of decorations. :-)

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 

      6 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      This was a very interesting and informative lens. I really enjoyed reading about the Victorian Christmas you described. Dickens is one of my favorite writers since I was in high school.


    • kcsantos profile image


      6 years ago

      I love Charles Dickens. This really spreads the Christmas season in your house. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love old Christmas stuff

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Cool lens. I love A Christmas Carol.

    • profile image

      Deadicated LM 

      7 years ago

      Nice Lens, I love Victiriana.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      7 years ago

      charles dickens is my favorite author. with your lens, you brought us back to the victorian era. i hope you get a purple star.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You're very welcome, it was a real pleasure :)

    • pkmcruk profile image


      7 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Absolutely delightful lens. Dickens can take as much credit for our interpretation of a traditional Christmas as Prince Albert with the Christmas Tree and Empress of India HM Queen Victoria. We live in a very Victorian House so we tend to capture that in the style of our Christmas decorating :-)

    • WoodlandBard profile image


      7 years ago

      There's a lot of charm here, takes us back to the Victorian ways that really created this day we enjoy now

    • rainydaz profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a beautiful lens. Well done. Makes me want to go shopping.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      GREAT lens! Merry Christmas! :)

    • MayaBella LM profile image

      MayaBella LM 

      7 years ago

      So many lovely things here! I would love to make the figgy pudding and ornaments while watching a Christmas Carol.

    • Susan300 profile image


      7 years ago

      Alwas wondered how to make figgy pudding. Thanks!

    • Fart Pickins profile image

      Fart Pickins 

      7 years ago

      I love frosted gum drops! My mom puts those in a cake every Christmas and I absolutely love long as there are no walnuts in it.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      7 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Briiliant! Everything I love about Christmas in one lens. "Blessed" today.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 

      8 years ago

      I love Victoriana! You've really captured the spirit of Dickens here.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      ooh I love the recipes you posted! :) Reading through all of this makes me wish I'd been alive back then to experience it all. I was reading another article too about how we derive a lot of our current Christmas traditions from Dickens, and how he was inspired to write "A Christmas Carol".

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens! Much useful info.


      and Art Glass

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      Beautiful lens!

    • thepartyanimal2 profile image


      10 years ago

      Yahoo you are a winner in The Squidoo Home for The Holidays Lens Contest So Go Grab your badge.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      10 years ago

      It is a family tradition to make all of those recipes from Christmas - except the figgy pudding!

    • lynnasafriend profile image


      10 years ago

      I just recently did a study on Dickens, you really went the extra mile with your lens, thank you

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Charles Dickens, who better than to inspire images of Christmases gone by? I have a nice collection of Department 56 Dickens Village pieces. I love the lens, Great job!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      10 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This is a beautiful lens and really puts me in the Christmas Spirit. I love it! All the beautiful ornaments and music boxes and decorations - Just lovely!!!

    • dc64 lm profile image

      dc64 lm 

      10 years ago

      Perfect! What a delightful lens. I love Christmas so much, and A Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas movie. So how could I not love this Charles Dickens lens! 5 christmas inspired stars!


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