Brought to my attention by Joan Hawkins, whom we’ve met in conjunction with the Bloomington Writers Guild, along with reader, poet, and artist Marge Simon, “Have a Creepy Little Christmas with These Unsettling Victorian Cards” by Allison Meier — and two of which are in our own local Lilly Library! — via HYPERALLERGIC.COM.  Anthropomorphic cats, murderous frogs, and insects dancing by the moonlight aren’t exactly part of our Christmas card tradition today.  However back in the 19th century, Victorians thought nothing unusual about sending their loved ones a grim image of a dead robin with the words “May yours be a joyful Christmas.”
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Many of these strange Victorian Christmas cards are making the rounds on social media this holiday season (@HorribleSanity has shared some especially disturbing ones, like the scene of a frog-on-frog stabbing, and Saint Nicholas stuffing a kid in a sack).  But where do these visuals come from, and what do they mean?  Some of that significance is now lost to history, yet it’s important to consider that Christmas wasn’t widely celebrated in the early 1800s.  So over the 19th century, the iconography of the pre-Santa Saint Nicholas, the trees, the presents, the snow, evolved gradually.
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And so, some with explanations (a frozen robin might remind us to be generous to the poor, especially the helpless children), some not, and with varying degrees of the bizarre, click here, look, read, and enjoy!
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(Triana especially likes the ones with cats in them.)