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Victorian Christmas traditions are introduced in an amusing chat show with our host Charles Dickens, author of, 'A Christmas Carol'. We learn rich children could expect expensive presents at Christmas, while poor children might receive a simple gift of fruit or wood. Celebrity chef Mrs Beeton describes the food eaten in a well-off Victorian family on Christmas Day. She shows us how complicated Christmas meals are prepared below stairs by her hardworking servants. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert tell us about Christmas in the royal household, where many Christmas traditions were started. The tradition of Christmas trees was brought to Britain by Prince Albert, and Christmas carols and turkey dinners were also enjoyed by the Victorian royal family. The people of Britain followed their example, which is why the traditions exist today.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
30 March 2012

Classroom Ideas

Describe and compare the toys played with by rich and poor children. Who made Christmas dinner? Discuss work done by servants in Victorian times, and the different roles in the household. Design a menu for a Victorian Christmas dinner, read some of Mrs Beeton's recipes and research the origins of Christmas traditions. Children could write two letters to Father Christmas; one from a poor child and one from a rich child. They should consider the different expectations the children would have for their presents and the style of language they would use for each child. The children could research what the foods shown are and whether they are still eaten today. Consider which Christmas traditions we still follow today and their Victorian origins. Why did Prince Albert introduce the Christmas tree?

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