Christmas Mittens

This week before Christmas the Czech Center Museum Houston would like to share a different little Christmas story each day as we count down the days til December 25th.

The Victorian Era brought us many Christmas customs that have become beloved traditions.  Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, brought the Christmas tree from his native Germany to Windsor Castle in the 1840s.  The sending of Christmas cards gained widespread popularity in England with the introduction of the halfpenny postage rate in 1870.

Christmas gifts of the era ranged from store-bought games, dolls, books and toys to simpler, hand-crafted items in less affluent homes.  Homemade Victorian gift lists included many knitted and embroidered items.  Mittens were a popular gift due to their simplicity as a knitting project and their usefulness throughout the winter.  A pair of warm woolen mittens chased away the chill during caroling, which during the 1800s became even more popular with the publication of classics like “O Little Town of Bethlehem” in 1868 and “Away in a Manger” in 1883.

In Victorian times Christmas was not only a time to gather around the hearth, but to venture out as well.  Visiting close friends and relatives, delivering Christmas dinners to the sick and poor, attending candlelit church services and sports like skating and sledding were all outdoor occasions of the day.  How lucky was one to have a gift of mittens to keep warm while traveling to and fro!

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