Mention Christmas treats to anyone and there’s a good chance they’ll think of a Christmas hamper, piled high with indulgent edible goodies. But why do we associate hampers with the festive season? Like a lot of our Christmas traditions, it all goes back to the Victorians, who had a huge influence on the way we celebrate.
In the 1800s, wealthy Victorian families would pack up parcels of food and drink at Christmas as a gift for their servants, including seasonal produce and meat to form the main part of the festive feast, as well as treats like wine or confectionery that the less well-off might not usually be able to afford. For those who didn’t have lots of money to spend on gifts, the celebrations would be all about the food and drink – as well as a special meal, children might also get a Christmas stocking (another Victorian invention) with an orange and a few nuts, both rather precious because of how far they would need to travel to be enjoyed in England.
It’s not just Christmas hampers and Christmas stockings that the Victorians invented, by the way – in 1843, Bath’s very own Henry Cole also invented the Christmas card! Having helped to introduce the Penny Post a few years earlier, Cole came up with Christmas cards as a way to encourage people to use the Post Office. The first card (pictured above) designed by painter John Callcot Horsley, shows a family drinking a toast together as well as acts of Christmas charity, and was a huge hit, kickstarting the massive greetings card industry we know today.
Whether it’s with a card or a gift, the most important thing is to let your loved ones know that you’re thinking of them at Christmas. And if you want to keep things traditional with a hamper full of goodies for festive feasting, we’ve got plenty of delicious options for you!