One of the best things about being on the internet as the holidays approach is getting to see all the Ephemera of Christmas Past—including the glorious weirdness of Victorian Christmas cards, like the one above, in which the annual Robin Christmas Party has gotten completely out of control? Click through for more!
The earliest recorded Christmas card seems like a perfect representation of the season:
Here’s a happy, feasting family flanked by hungry children being fed and clothed. It’s a card that seems to day, “Have a nice time with your loved ones, Victorian member of the middle class! Now let’s remember that not everyone’s so lucky, and try to help them out!” Nice Christmas/New Year’s sentiment, right? But as the holiday gained popularity in England, the ideas of what constituted Christmas iconography fluctuated.
Hyperallergic has a great post explaining things like fads for natural history illustrations, and how dead animals represented various social ills that were just begging for the Victorian middle class to fix. But then you get stuff like this:
Seriously, Murder Frog? Are you sarcastically wishing your victim a Merry Christmas as you walk away with his money? Are you the Frog Hans Gruber? What is wrong with you?
Anyone out there have Black Philip on your Christmas card list? While the front seems a little, um, jarring? the inside of the card is appropriately festive: “Loving Christmas greetings, may smiling faces ring around your glowing hearth this Christmas day, may fun and merriment abound, and all your world be glad and gay.” That’s sweet! If only an evil goat wasn’t trying to steal our fruit basket.
We love the idea that someone has interrupted this dog as he reads his paper, and he glances up, gives you a tail-wag, wishes you a joyful Christmas, and goes back to his article.
None of these sparrows seem particularly jolly, and the way they are all awkwardly clutching matchstick-torches suggests more of a mob mentality. Is this the real War on Christmas?
Um, none of us were afraid? Should we be? WHAT DO YOU KNOW, TIN SOLDIER?
Please understand we have only taken the tiniest bite of the plum pudding that awaits you over at Hyperallergic! Go forth and be merry.
Originally published December 2016.