Christmas Day is here, so let us put all sorrows to one side and celebrate a day when people simply feel happy with themselves and the world around them.
It’s not seasonal weather, as I type this on Christmas morning 2023 it feels more like March or April, and rain rather than snow is forecast for later. I love Christmas traditions however, so I will keep to the tradition of this page and festoon it with examples of Victorian Christmas cards.
Most of these examples are from the late Victorian period, as the concept of sending Christmas cards didn’t begin until 1843 thanks to Sir Henry Cole. Did the Brontë family send Christmas cards? We know they received one thanks to this example sent to Charlotte Brontë by Ellen Nussey; as you can see it’s rather less flamboyant, and weird, than the ones that came in succeeding decades.
Christmas in Haworth Parsonage was obviously a deeply meaningful one, a spiritual one, for the daughters of a Church of England priest. There would have been music at church and at home, with the brilliant pianist Emily Brontë at the keys, and Anne by her shoulder providing accompaniment in the singing voice described by Ellen Nussey as ‘weak, but very sweet’.
I leave you now with my other blogging tradition, the Anne Brontë poem written on, and about, Christmas Day itself. May I wish you all, your family and friends, a very happy Christmas and I hope you will return next Sunday for another new Brontë blog post. As you know, I have been writing these blog posts for eight years now, simply because I like to share my love of this wonderful family with fellow literature fans. You’re support means the world to me – thank you! I leave you now with Anne Brontë and her ‘Music On Christmas Morning’:
‘Music I love – but never strain
Could kindle raptures so divine,
So grief assuage, so conquer pain,
And rouse this pensive heart of mine –
As that we hear on Christmas morn,
Upon the wintry breezes born.
Though Darkness still her empire keep,
And hours must pass, ere morning break;
From troubled dreams, or slumbers deep,
That music kindly bids us wake:
It calls us, with an angel’s voice,
To wake, and worship, and rejoice;
To greet with joy the glorious morn,
Which angels welcomed long ago,
When our redeeming Lord was born,
To bring the light of Heaven below;
The Powers of Darkness to dispel,
And rescue Earth from Death and Hell.
While listening to that sacred strain,
My raptured spirit soars on high;
I seem to hear those songs again
Resounding through the open sky,
That kindled such divine delight,
In those who watched their flocks by night.
With them – I celebrate His birth –
Glory to God, in highest Heaven,
Good will to men, and peace on Earth,
To us a saviour-king is given;
Our God is come to claim His own,
And Satan’s power is overthrown!
A sinless God, for sinful men,
Descends to suffer and to bleed;
Hell must renounce its empire then;
The price is paid, the world is freed.
And Satan’s self must now confess,
That Christ has earned a Right to bless:
Now holy Peace may smile from heaven,
And heavenly Truth from earth shall spring:
The captive’s galling bonds are riven,
For our Redeemer is our king;
And He that gave his blood for men
Will lead us home to God again.’