Friday, December 3, 2010

Nineteenth Century Christmas Wish List—What a Girl Wants

My niece very kindly gave me an electronic wish list of what she wants for Christmas, complete with pictures and places to buy online. She has excellent taste, and I don’t say that just because some of it involved steampunk clothing, and steampunk is my most recent love. (Nineteenth century aesthetics meets modern thoughts on science fiction, with a dash of piracy—what’s not to love?!) But it got me thinking: what would a nineteenth century teen put on her, or his, Christmas wish list?

Of course, many families didn’t give gifts in the first decade or two of the century. Giving gifts was a German tradition, so families with connections to the House of Hanover and other German dynasties were more likely to have Christmas trees and presents, at least at first. But Christmas grew in popularity as the century went on in England, particularly after the publication of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in 1843.

So, let’s say it’s around 1850, and you’re the daughter of a fairly well-to-do family. What would you hint to Mama and Papa to purchase for you for Christmas?

--The compiled version of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, which just finished its serialization in November. The hardback edition would be so very nice, as your serials are starting to wear from rereading.

--New sheet music. Nothing better to perk up the dreary winter months!

--Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Everyone is quoting them. Why, a young man even recently read you No. 43: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Sigh.

--A sewing box. It truly is tiresome to go after Mother’s box every time you want to embroider a slipcover or stitch up a ruff to go with that new gown. And Father would be pleased you asked for something so industrious. Of course, he might balk at this lovely version.

--A pince-nez. Your eyes are fine, but everyone’s wearing these dainty little glasses. They’re quite the fashion statement.

What about you? What would you have put on your list?


Nycteris said...

I want some 19th century clothes please, Santa Claus!!! ;) And maybe some Victorian decorations for my room... wouldn't that be nice!
Merry Christmas!

QNPoohBear said...

Books, exactly what's on my current wish list! Everything else except the sewing box and pince nez sounds great.

Joanna said...

Let's see, in the 19th century, I would have asked for opera glasses and pink lace.

On my Christmas list right now is probably a book, a set of netting needles, and Jingle Spells 4 from the Leaky Cauldron site lol.

Though really everything on the 19th century xmas list sounds great!

Regina Scott said...

Julia-I hear you on the clothes! QNPoohBear, I think this is the first year that books aren't on my list, as so many friends and family have been stocking my library, and I am very thankful! Ooh, Joanna, pink lace-perfect!

bethany said...

pardon me for this but I just started reading this again after a dive into the 1930's
and then 1860's
but this is an awsome blog and I'm right back on the regency. I'm sorry for not posting my support for it at it's birthday. keep up the good work and I love the odd history facts.

Regina Scott said...

Welcome back, Bethany! Glad to have you with us again!