Victorian Christmas Dinner for the Holidays
No holiday is complete without a lovely meal, and the Brits of Queen Victoria’s time absolutely knew this with their Victorian Christmas Dinner. Since she was the wealthiest person in Great Britain, her table would have been full of all the delicious foods the times had to offer. Meal times were a time for the wealthy to demonstrate their wealth, and this would have been even more for the holiday meal.
First of all, the kitchen of the 1800’s showed some of the influences of the time. The Queen’s food would have been produced on wooden stoves that were new to the century: the Rumford Stove made by Benjamin Thompson was the first wooden stove made, or the Queen’s servants could have been cooking on the Oberlin Stove that was patented in 1834.
By the time of her death the servants could have been using the first of the gas stoves that were available. The kitchen would have been a busy place indeed as the servants may have used it for a sleeping quarter, and definitely to bathe in as it was the warmest room in the castle. By the time of the Queen’s death in 1901 the castle would have had access to running water and lighting by gas.
Also in a ordinary family every member would need to stir the pudding at least once for good luck.
Of course it might have been different with Queen Victoria’s home! She undoubtedly would have servants stirring her pudding.
What Happened at the Victorian Christmas Dinner?
Whatever they ate at their Victorian Christmas dinner, they would do all they could to make it memorable. And a time for family.
Just like we do for our holiday meals today!
The Victorian Christmas Dinner is similar to what most of us have today, with some charming differences. Because the Brits admired French cooking the meal would have consisted of many courses. Yes, the Brits did not take the competition with the French to their tummies!
The Many Courses of the Victorian Christmas Dinner
First the meal, might have started with a savory soup. Then it progressed to the main dish. The meal would center around a large meat: roast beef, or a fowl: goose or turkey were popular.
In A Christmas Carol a reformed Scrooge takes great pleasure in buying the biggest goose in the butchery for Tiny Tim and his family. Indeed the roast meat still causes joy. Just like today it would be accompanied with delicious gravy from the pan drippings and flour. Later there might have been a game pie, which the Brits were famous for.
There would have been vegetables, although potatoes was the most common, and there would have been fresh dinner rolls with butter and jams and jellies.
Victorian Christmas Dinner Beverages
Even though Britain is infamous for its fine teas such as Yorkshire Gold, I was relieved to learn that coffee would have been served as well.
Of course, Christmas is a time of libation! Victorian Christmas dinner would have been the perfect opportunity for that. Even the poor families would have served beer and gin. In fact the water was so poor, beer was often drank to prevent disease!
During the Victorian times the mixed drink was discovered. Dickens ran across them when he traveled to the States, much to his delight. Mixed drinks were not for the poor, but the middle classes enjoyed them.
Perhaps those at a Victorian dinner would have enjoyed the Sherry Cobbler. Dickens described this in Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit “Martin took the glass with an astonished look; applied his lips to the reed; and cast up his eyes once in ecstasy. He paused no more until the goblet was drained to the last drop. ‘This wonderful invention, sir,’ said Mark, tenderly patting the empty glass, ‘is called a cobbler. Sherry Cobbler when you name it long; cobbler, when you name it short.’”
Victorian Christmas Dinner Libations
MAKES 1 SERVINGS
- 1 orange wheel, plus ½ wheel for serving
- 1 lemon wheel, plus ½ wheel for serving
- ¾ ounce simple syrup
- 3 ounces dry amontillado Sherry
- Mint sprigs and a raspberry (for serving)
Muddle 1 orange wheel, 1 lemon wheel, and simple syrup in a pint glass. Add Sherry and pour into a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Cover; shake vigorously until outside is frosty, about 30 seconds.
Strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Add more crushed ice, packing into glass and mounding above rim. Garnish with mint, raspberry, ½ orange wheel, and ½ lemon wheel.
Or maybe they drank my favorite:
- 2cups whipping cream
- 1 cup half and half
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 6 tablespoons
- additional ground nutmeg
- Bring cream and half and half to simmer in large saucepan. Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into yolk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 4 minutes (do not boil). Strain into bowl. Stir in nutmeg. Cool slightly. (Can be made 1 day ahead, Cover and chill. If desired, rewarm over low heat stirring occasionally, before continuing).
- Divide warm or cold mixture amount 6 cups or glasses. Stir 1 tablespoon sherry into each. Sprinkle additional nutmeg over each and serve.
Set a Victorian Table
Whether it is having a cup of tea, setting a full table, or drinking your coffee in a mug based on a favorite biscuit, adding Victorian products to your table provides class.
Elegant Romantic Rose Victorian Porcelain Teapot And Teacup Duo Beautiful Gift ItemPair Fine English Bone China Mugs – Rose Pinks Chintz – Crown Victorian China, Staffordshire, EnglandEating with the Victorians: Fascinating Tale of Victorian Life through the Victorian MealMcVitie’s Digestives Mug/Cup New in Packaging Christmas Gift for BritishSpode Woodland Turkey Service PlateAmscan Classic Victorian Tree Round Metallic Dessert Paper Plates Christmas Party Disposable Tableware (Pack Of 8), Multicolor, 7″
Victorian Food and Tea Products Still Available
You can still celebrate a Victorian Christmas all year round with the teas and sweets that are still made to this day.
English Tea, “Best of British” – Mini Tin Triple Pack, Best of British Teas in Mini TinsTaylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea, 7.76 Ounce 100 Tea BagsMarks & Spencer Classic Recipe Christmas Pudding 907g (2lb) | Delicately Spiced & Packed with Vine Fruits with Lashings of Cider, Rum & Sherry Made in UKTop Iced Christmas Cake by Norfolk Manor – 32oz – 907gWalkers Shortbread, Strathspey Rich Fruit Cake, 17.6-Ounce Box
The Victorian Christmas dinner would be the centerpiece of a day of celebration.
Besides the dinner , the day would include Christmas gifts. Just like today, the children would be eager to know what Father Christmas had brought them!
The Christmas tree would be beautifully decorated. Many of the decorations would be handmade, as Christmas crafts – including the Christmas cracker – were so popular.
But beyond the tree, the gifts and the fun – the party would be complete because of the lovely Victorian Christmas dinner.