Christmas Traditions at Penrhyn Castle

Be our guests as we celebrate a traditional Christmas together and find out how many of the traditions we hold dear today have their roots in the Victorian era.

The Victorians brought about huge changes in the way we celebrate Christmas, rapidly transforming it into the festivity we recognise today; centred around feasting, celebration, and family values.

" This year we want to celebrate the influence the Victorians had on our celebration which is why we'd like to invite you to join us, as our guests, for Christmas."
- Rhian Cahill, Visitor Experience Manager

Oh, Christmas tree...

The once pagan tradition of using an evergreen fir to celebrate winter festivals was already part of Christmas tradition amongst the English aristocracy.

This tradition started to grow in popularity after 1840 when the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal family celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree, imported by Queen Victoria's German-born husband Prince Albert from his native Coburg.

Soon, every home in Britain had a tree bedecked with candles, sweets, fruit, homemade decorations and small gifts.

Christmas in the kitchens at Penrhyn Castle
Christmas in the kitchens at Penrhyn Castle
Christmas in the kitchens at Penrhyn Castle

Christmas gift giving also became commonplace during the Victorian era, a tradition that was previously reserved for New Year celebrations.

Sending handmade cards had been customary since medieval times, but innovations in design and the printing process led to a huge increase in their popularity. Cards were printed with the now traditional image of a family spending time together, celebrating Christmas around a fireplace, tree or dining table.

The term Boxing Day also started to be used around this time, so named because this was the day servants and the working classes opened their ‘boxes’ of gifts which they had collected from the rich and middle class.

Many other traditions we know and love also started or were resurrected during this period.These include Christmas crackers, elaborate decorations, parlour games and even the traditional turkey dinner itself.

During our festive weekends you can leave the high street far behind as you learn more about how these traditions came to be as well as try your hand at making traditional cards, create your own evergreen wreath, and even visit the Victorian Kitchens and see just how the Victorians prepared for the festivities to come.

Don't forget to sample some traditional Christmas treats and a cup of Penrhyn Fruit Punch.

Festive biccies in the Victorian kitchen
Christmas shortbread biscuits
Festive biccies in the Victorian kitchen

A Penrhyn Christmas takes place every Saturday and Sunday between 24 November and 16 December 2018 from 11am-4pm.

Please note that not all areas of the Castle are open and the event is limited to the Grand Hall, Library, Drawing room, Ebony room and the Victorian Kitchens.

Why not share your christmas traditions with us?

Leave us a message on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet using the #MyChristmasTradition hashtag.