10% off all courses this cyber weekend. Enter code CYBER2020 at checkout

Discount only valid on courses between £99 and £500 inclusive. Discount ends Monday 30 November 2020 at midnight.
See full terms and conditions

T’was the night before Christmas: how the English festive season evolved in the 19th century

Course Dates: 12/12/20 - 19/12/20
Time: 10:30 - 12:00
Location: Online
Peter Street

Christmas was of limited significance in early 19th century England. But it changed fundamentally thereafter. We explore why this was so together with the origins of all that was to constitute the ‘traditional’/Victorian Festive Season.

This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.


What is the course about?

The course begins with a brief outline of Christmas in England prior to 1800 and an overview of why/how it became so important during the 19th century. It considers why Christmas came to be associated with charity and family; how Christmas Day was prepared for and celebrated, incorporating both long-established and newly-invented traditions. Featured too is how the Festival was marked in both rural and urban society in this period. Particular reference is made to role played by literature (notably Dickens!), music, food and entertainment (especially the pantomime).

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Defining the Festive Season; Christmas in England before the 19th century
How and why a changing England changed Christmas
‘Deck the Halls’: Christmas decorations/tree, greetings and shopping
Charles Dickens and the making of the Victorian Christmas
Ancient and Modern: performing sacred Christmas music from the Waits to The Messiah and beyond
‘Christmas is coming, the goose…’ popular music/music hall at Christmas time
Christmas Dinner (and paying for/preparing it)
Christmas entertainments and the evolution of the Pantomime
‘Christmas Day in the workhouse’: Christmas and charity
Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve/Day and Twelfth Night.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Identify and discuss: changes in what comprised the Festive Season and the celebration of Christmas in England before the 19th century;how and why a changing England changed Christmas in the 19th century; the nature of 19th Christmas decorations, greetings and shopping; Charles Dickens and the making of the Victorian Christmas; sacred and secular music at Christmastide; Christmas dinner, entertainments and the evolution of the Pantomime; Christmas and charity; Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve/Day and Twelfth Night.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

An introductory course: no previous knowledge is required.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be delivered through a mixture of formal input and discussion with student participation encouraged. No work outside class is required.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No other costs; requisites for optional note taking.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Other British and general history courses starting in January 2021. . Details of these can be found on the City Lit website.

Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Sorry, this course is now full

Course Code: HBH04

Full Sat, day, 12 Dec - 19 Dec '20

Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)

Full fee: £39.00
Senior fee: £31.00
Concession: £20.00

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.