Victorian-American newspapers illustrate the rules of etiquette governing New Year’s calls. Society’s expectations were made public and adherence expected. What did proper decorum require on January 1?
Victorian-American husbands and wives celebrated their wedding anniversaries in a variety of ways. The wealthy held sumptuous dinners and balls in honor of their years of wedded bliss and their guest lists and published itemized gifts showed it! A variety of late-nineteenth-century American etiquette governed much about the Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary, from invitation to gifts to entertainments.
Etiquette governing balls and dances in the American Victorian era seems stuffy, old-fashioned, and strict to 21st century Americans. Every rule of decorum ensured good manners were in play, but most importantly, the moral purity and innocence of young women and young men were maintained. Etiquette governed everything from how a man asked a woman for a dance to how he could properly hold her hand while dancing, to how many dances that pair could have in one evening. This article contains the specifics propriety demanded, and the vintage sources where they may be found. Leap year turned some of the lady’s restrictions upon the men; see the true-to-history newspaper article from 1888 that starred in Sophia’s Leap-Year Courtship.
In the very early years of the United States’ history, Christmas celebrations remained highly localized and dependent upon the traditions of the settlers’ homelands. But by 1876 (The Centennial), what we consider a “Traditional Christmas” had become firmly formed. Contemporary Americans will recognize almost all of the Victorian traditions surrounding the holiday.