The Bravery of Old England

I’ve never had a plum pudding, carried flaming to the table with a sprig of holly on it like a jaunty beret. But frankly, after seeing some Victorian Christmas cards that star Ye Olde Figgy Pudding, I doubt that I am courageous enough to handle the experience. Those Victorians were an intrepid lot to face that dessert year after year.

Even when the illustrators were aiming for cute, they usually hit a bull’s eye in badass scary. Imagine meeting this fellow strolling down Christmas Tree Lane:

I have not decided which is worse, the knife and fork arms or the strange glass balanced on his head. Actually, the twigs spelling Merry Christmas are pretty creepy, too. And despite the presence of Santa in this next card, I would give those treats a miss (hit turbulence with his sleigh and he could wipe out an entire town):

Even the Victorians admitted their favorite Christmas treat had a dark side:

And while puddings still enjoy a certain popularity in England and the Commonwealth, I definitely prefer the more modern interpretation, such as my daughter found with “Mr. Pudding” on a t-shirt in Sydney, Australia years ago.

But then, I don’t think that was a “Christmas” pudding.

My unease continues…

Those Wacky Victorians

frog-card

If I write the words “Victorian Christmas card,” what springs to mind? Perhaps a convivial cast of Dickens-esque characters enjoying carols round the tree or sitting at a banquet table with a flaming plum pudding. Or maybe you think of turn-of-the-century whimsy, with beribboned kittens and rosy-cheeked children. But how about ice skating frogs who have lost both their footing and their pipes, all in a row?

Welcome to the wacky world of Victorian novelty cards where beetles dance with frogs while some winged thing shakes a tambourine.

bug-card

Then again, nothing says holiday cheer like traveling bee and beetle musicians in a wintry landscape. Their walking sticks are a nice touch.

bird-card

Strange these cards may be, but stranger still are the dead bird postcards. No kidding; I have seen more than one Victorian holiday card that features a dead bird lying on its back, little feet cocked in the air, a cheery Christmas message written below.

I decided not to “send” you any of those. You can thank me later.