OT......Creepy Victorian Christmas Cards

yoyobon_gw
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sheri_z6

Yikes! I cannot imagine what frogs, dead birds, and goat's heads have to do with Christmas, but then the Victorians were -- er -- quirky. I did love the "dance after Christmas dinner" one, that was adorable. Thank you for sharing!

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kathy_t

Holy Cow! Are these authentic? It's hard to imagine.

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yoyobon_gw

The image of a dead bird in the snow is similar to the popular “Babe in the Woods” motif of children who are in their mortal sleep in the forest, and may have likewise been a call to empathy for the less fortunate. John Grossman, author of Christmas Curiosities, told Tea Tree Library that the cards were “bound to elicit Victorian sympathy and may reference common stories of poor children freezing to death at Christmas.” It’s worth noting that these cards also have imagery akin to the depictions of the 18th-century English rhyme “Who Killed Cock Robin,” that includes the funeral of the slain bird.

However, it wasn’t necessarily such a tempus fugit symbol. Hunter Oatman-Stanford at Collectors Weekly noted that the birds are often robins and wrens, and that “killing a wren or robin was once a good-luck ritual performed in late December.” Specifically, the IrishSt. Stephen’s Day on December 26 is known as “Wren Day,” with a traditional hunt of the bird (albeit now a fake one on a pole, although that wasn’t always the case). So receiving a card with the little prone bird, feet curled in rigor mortis, could be meant to wish nothing more than good cheer on the new year.


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annpanagain

Kathy, when my grandfather mentioned Black Valentine cards, I thought he had misunderstood but he hadn't!

I saw some later on a website. Nasty! They would be sent to people you didn't like in the Victorian era.

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kathy_t

Good Lord! I had no idea.

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Rosefolly

Eeeww. I count get past the first half dozen or so. Not the images I want to put in my mind. Even the flowers with the faces of pretty children was disturbing to me.

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yoyobon_gw

The dead bird did it for me. Egads.

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vee_new

These Victorian cards must have had some appeal for those who sent them . .. but whatever was it? Surely they wouldn't have bothered sending cards to people they disliked?

But . . . on saying that, after my late (unlamented) M-in-Law returned my Xmas cards plus the annual photos of the children, with a message on the envelope for me to delete her from my card list, and despite my DH saying to obey her commands, I carried on sending cards each year (without the photos). I always chose the Dutch canal scene ie grey sky, grey land, grey sea or the drunken robin drowning in a champagne glass. I just hope she had fun setting fire to them as much as she did sticking pins into any photos she had of her son's family.

I refused to be bullied by the evil old . .. woman. And if this makes me an equally really nasty person; well, so be it.

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msmeow

Wow, Vee - she sounds like my husband’s maternal grandmother. She didn’t like anyone as far as I could tell, and despised men in general. She tolerated her one grandson until he missed her birthday party one year when he was in high school. His best friend had been in a car accident and the friend’s parents were out of town, so Mark spent the day trying to get in touch with them to let them know about the accident, rather than going to Grandmother’s party.


Donna

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yoyobon_gw

Vee.....that does not define you as evil in any way. You rose above it.

I have a similar situation in my family...and you do what is true to yourself and not let others choose your attitude for you.

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annpanagain

Yoyo, quite right! I send a relative a card and chatty letter at Xmas, even though she told me that she doesn't celebrate it and doesn't remember me! She does send back a New Year card but no letter, otherwise I wouldn't know if she was still alive! She won't even give me her email address! I am not giving up on her, she is my only remaining sister...

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yoyobon_gw

Ann....You do the right thing and let others make their choices. Families are such complex groups and there always seems to be drama and divisions. Sad.



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vee_new

My goodness Ann, does your sister not 'remember' you because she suffers from dementia (or similar) or just chooses to 'cut' you socially?

I know my DH's family regard the Mother's antics/bad behaviour in an "Oh! That's Mother for you" way, but many of her antics took some beating.

Many years ago her daughter H (DH's sister) and 2 small daughters (2 &3 yrs) were being driven to a town some miles away with the Mother for dentists visits etc. On the journey H and Mother had one of their many quarrels. Once there H arranged time and place to meet Mother for lunch and they parted. At the appointed hour H and kids went to the cafe and waited . . . and waited . . . Had H got the time and place wrong? Had something happened to the Mother? H spent over an hour with two very hungry and tired kids checking other eating places and worrying as she had very little money with her as this lunch was going to be Mother's treat. And how would she get home? No buses trains etc. let alone cell phones.

Luckily, quite by coincidence, her husband was working in nearby branch office of his firm and rescued them.

They heard nothing back from the Mother for several months and then it was for her to say she had deliberately abandoned them to 'teach H a lesson' for the quarrel.

Yet they all put this down to "Oh! it's just Mother being Mother."

You either have to laugh or cry.

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annpanagain

Vee, I am puzzled as to why my sister can't remember me.as she is quite well!

I left the UK when she was ten but spent a lot of time with the family although I lodged with my grandparents to be near my work. We talked a lot on the phone when our other sister was in a hospice and I needed reports of her progress. My sister came South to be with her at that time, living in her flat near the hospice.

I mentioned that I would like to keep in touch and that was when she dropped the line about not remembering me! I felt like I had lost them both. However, I do write at Christmas with family news. We are all the family she has left now but I don't know if she cares.

I hear of some very peculiar behaviour by mothers. My MiL was very strange sometimes. She would tell the most outrageous stories and caused a lot of trouble.

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yoyobon_gw

Ann.......outrageous stories are what I like to refer to as embroidering the truth. There are those in my family who are very skillful at doing this. I wonder if perhaps they crave attention and feel that the facts are not exciting enough.

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Rosefolly

Every family has someone dreadful. Rouan and I have a relative we refer to as our Wicked Uncle. No, not wicked in that way, but greedy, manipulative, and deceitful. He deliberately caused real sorrow to some mutual relatives, people much nicer than himself.

On the other hand, both of my MIL's were very pleasant people. I had little in common with either of them, but both were likable and easy to get along with.

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yoyobon_gw

It's most painful when it's your own child.

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Rosefolly

Yoyobon, that is true. Sometimes parents do their very best but a child still does not turn out the way they'd hoped. There's not much that can be done about it.

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sheri_z6

I just saw an article on "vinegar valentines" and thought of this thread. The Victorians and their card sending habits were ... umm .... interesting.

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/616258/victorian-vinegar-valentines-discouraged-suitors

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yoyobon_gw

Speaking of Valentines, when I was in grade school we used to make and decorate boxes from the bottom half of a cereal box and put a slot in the top for our Valentines. The kids went around and delivered them to the box.

I still have some of those cards ! But it makes me think of how awful it would be to have few or none in your box at the end of the day . ( ala Charlie Brown). That was before teachers developed a sensitivity to the insensitivity of children and made proclamations such as " You must make a card for every person in our class. " and " You must invite everyone in our class if you plan a party."


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carolyn_ky

When I was still at home or visiting over the weekend near Valentine's Day, my mother used to draft me to make her annual classroom decorated Valentine box complete with slit in top. I had thought I was finally finished with Valentine boxes until my daughter started to school. When her first grade teacher asked if someone could make such a box for her room, she enthusiastically said, "My mama knows how to do that." So, of course, not to disappoint her . . .

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kathy_t

This video is rather long - 8 minutes, so you may not want to spend the time, but it's a stand-up comedy routine by "that kid" - the one who didn't receive any valentines at school. He's now 93 and telling the story:

https://www.facebook.com/LADbible/videos/3281876038526230/


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