Victorian Caged Grave

Although this is a bit different from what I usually post, I came upon this picture on the internet and just had to share. I have read and watched a lot on the subject of the undead and vampires, and even read about this cage over graves before. However, I have never actually seen a picture of one before and found it unique. So, I know what your asking, “so what does this have to do with this site and why is it posted?” Well, it has to do with the Victorian era and all of their superstitions and what we now know of as irrational fears.

The caged grave as seen above was used to prevent one of two things. 1: If you were to come back alive and become a walking undead then you wouldn’t be able to remove yourself from this cage and you could be dealt with. 2: If you were a vampire the same situation would apply to you.

I find death during the Victorian era to be fascinating, they seemed to have a love affair with death at least from an onlooker some 100 years in the future. Did you know that many peoples only photograph was taken AFTER they died. Yes, if you came from a poor family and you died, your family could scrape enough money together to have a memorial photo of you by yourself or your body could be “staged” to be in a family photo. This included babies and older folks and these photos were kept in a memorial album.

A memorial album was basically a scrapbook of photos of the deceased. You see, you would have photos of your loved ones, but you would also have memorial cards sent to you with the photos of the deceased person on the front announcing their death. Since everything delivered was delivered very slowly back then from one area of the country to another it might be weeks before you found out someone related to you died. This would announce their death but would give you a keepsake of their death and it would be added to your memorial photo album.

Many of these photos are sought after by collectors and can go for large sums of money. Especially sought after are entire albums, photos that are metal and those of young children and babies.

A good source of these pictures may be found at http://memorialphotosofthedead.wordpress.com/ and if you venture there please be advised as to what you will see. There are photos from the Victorian era as well as posed photos of gunned down armed robbers and pictures of famous people who have died since the Victorian era.

The Victorian era is filled with mysterious ideals and love for long forgotten traditions, still some we are using today.

“Country Victorian” Decorating

Victorian Era style reflects home decor during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 – 1910. “Country Victorian” focuses primarily on the feel and look of Victorian countryside summer homes. While this decorating style is very similar to traditional Victorian decor, it incorporates a more airy and relaxing feel.

Colors: “Country Victorian” decor incorporates a variety of colors such as pastel pinks, greens, blues, and peaches. These can be paired with darker hues of mauve and incorporate the occasional navy, indigo, or deep forest green. “Country Victorian” homes often inspire picturesque images of the countryside or seaside. Pick an idyllic image of a rustic vacation spot and use this to influence your color selections. Sea foam green and varying shades of blue with a touch of peach will invoke an image of the seaside while pink, mauve, mint green, and forest green will speak of a countryside filled with flowers growing down a rolling hillside. Rich patterns are common in Victorian home decor on everything from the furniture to the wallpaper.

Materials: “Country Victorian” decor typically uses lots of lush and luxurious fabrics such as silk, velvet and lace. Your “Country Victorian” home should still have an abundant supply of interesting fabrics, but you should not to use those with a light and airy feel such as cottons and chintz. Use lace or gauzy fabrics at the windows to let plenty of sunlight in. Embroidered blankets, rugs, pillows, and throws will lend to the Victorian feel and look of the home. Tassels and ribbons

are also distinctly Victorian. Furniture with a lacquered grained wood finish will give the home a bit of a rustic feel. Wicker is another material frequently associated with “Country Victorian” homes. Couches and chairs should be plump and a bit overstuffed.

Accessories: In a “Country Victorian” style home, it is the little touches that often bring the look together. Victorian decor is often associated with a business and somewhat cluttered look. Placing antique items and Victorian era prints and artwork throughout the home will complete your “Country Victorian” theme. Dried flowers are a popular feature in homes of this style. Nature-inspired knickknacks such as seashells and pebbles work with this theme as well. Opt for pewter and brass light fixtures. Painted plates and porcelain dogs and other small creatures are fine finishing touches for a “Country Victorian” home.

Valentines Day Fun Facts

Traditionally, spring begins on St Valentine’s Day (February 14th), the day on which birds chose their mates. In parts of Sussex Valentines Day was called ‘the Birds’ Wedding Day’.

There are many other traditions and superstitions associated with romance activities on Valentine’s day including:

  • the first man an unmarried woman saw on 14th February would be her future husband;
  • if the names of all a girl’s suitors were written on paper and wrapped in clay and the clay put into water, the piece that rose to the surface first would contain the name of her husband-to-be.
  • if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine’s Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a rich person.
  • In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week.
  • In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favourite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, “You unlock my heart!”

Valentines Day Gift Of Gloves

A Valentines Day historical tradition: Just prior to the Elizabethan era, gloves were worn almost exclusively by men. But, by the late 16th century, gloves became a traditional Valentine’s Day gift for women.

In fact, it became custom for a young woman to approach her man of choice and utter the verse  “Good-morrow Valentine, I go today; To wear for you, what you must pay; A pair of gloves next Easter Day.” Having thus been ambushed, the man was expected to send the woman a gift of gloves to wear on Easter Sunday. Sometimes men sent women gloves without an invitation. If the lady wore the gloves on Easter, it was a sign that she favored the gentleman’s romantic overtures.

Victorian Purse History

It is hard to understand Victorian era purses without first understanding Queen Victoria and her long rein over England. Her influence was so pronounced that it greatly affected styles and her middle class attitude was reflected in fashion.
Queen Victoria reined from 1837 to 1901 and took over control of England at the age of 18. She was very headstrong and began rejecting the advice of her equally headstrong mother, who had a great deal of control over her life up to this point.
Prime Minister Lord Melbourne began to exert influence on her views until 1840, when Queen Victoria married her cousin Prince Albert. They proceeded to have 9 children.
The Queen’s values were reflected in the Victorian purse of this era. Life was relatively stable and England enjoyed expanding prosperity. Of course there was a wide discrepancy between the upper middle class and the poor and fashion was important to the “haves” as opposed to the “have nots”.
There was a large variety of victorian purses popular during the rein of Queen Victoria so generalizations are needed. Needle skills were valued and this was reflected in decorative designs in beadwork and ribbonwork. Magazines that gave instructions on how to make these bags were very popular.
Knitted bags and chatelaine bags became the rage around 1870 and melded beautifully with women’s fashionable dresses at that time which were slim fitting. The chatelaine bag was hung either from the wrist or the waist.
When women traveled, a large bag with a metal frames called the Gladstone bag after Queen Victoria’s Prime Minister William Gladstone was used. This was an example of a specialized bag for a special need and some popular Victorian purses were used exclusively for going to the opera as well as traveling toilet bags.
The Victorian purse encompassed many different styles over Queen Victoria’s long rein but her own personality was incorporated in the fashion of her day. Her sensibilities gave England it’s own direction in design as this prosperous country enjoyed it’s rule over the empire of style.

Valentines Day Card History

Valentine greetings have been popular since the Middle Ages, a time when prospective lovers said or sang their romantic verses. Written valentines began to appear after 1400. Paper valentines originated in the 1500s, being exchanged in Europe and being given in place of valentine gifts and oral or musical valentine greetings. They were particularly popular in England. The first written valentine (formerly known as “poetical or amorous addresses”) is traditionally attributed to the imprisoned Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415. While confined in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt, the young Duke reportedly passed his time by writing romantic verses for his wife in France. Approximately sixty of the Duke’s poems remain and can be seen among the royal papers in the British Museum. They are credited with being the first modern day valentines.

By the Sixteenth Century, written valentines were commonplace and by the Seventeenth Century, it was a widespread tradition in England and other Western countries for friends and sweethearts to exchange gifts and notes on February 14. During the early 1700s, Charles II of Sweden brought the Persian poetical art known as the “language of flowers” to Europe and throughout the Eighteenth Century, floral dictionaries were published, permitting the exchange of romantic secrets via a lily or lilac, for example, culminating in entire conversations taking place within a bouquet of flowers. The more popular the flower, the more traditions and meaning were associated with it. The red rose, for instance, believed to be the favored flower of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love, became universally accepted to represent romantic love. Thus, the custom of giving red roses on Valentine’s Day quickly gained popularity.

Some time after 1723, the popularity of valentine cards in America began to grow with the import from England of valentine “writers.” A “writer” was a booklet comprised of a vast array of verses and messages which could be copied onto gilt-edged paper or other type of decorative sheet. One popular “writer” contained not only “be my valentine” types of verses for the men to send to their sweethearts, but also acceptances or “answers” which the ladies could then return. Late Eighteenth Century and Early Nineteenth Century valentines were often religious in nature and it is possible that the “Sacred Heart” often depicted on these cards eventually became the “Valentine Heart” with the customarily accompanying Angel eventually becoming “Cupid.” It is believed that the earlier versions of these religious valentines may have been made by nuns who would cut-out the paper lace with scissors. It is thought the process probably took many days since the cards had every appearance of being machine-made.

One popular style of early American card from 1840 to approximately 1860 was the “Daguerreotype,” a photographic process using old-time tintype in the center of a card surrounded by an ornametal wreath. Another was the “Mirror Valentine,” which contained a small mirror placed in the center to reflect the face of the recipient. However, the sending of valentine greetings in America did not become a true tradition until around the time of the Civil War (1861-1865) when valentine cards often depicted sweethearts parting, or a tent with flaps that opened to reveal a soldier. These were known as “windows.” In peace time, the “window” would be a church door opening to reveal a bridge and groom. Another Civil War valentine novelty was for the card to have a place for the sender to include a lock of hair. By the early 1800s, valentines began to be assembled in factories. Such early manufactured valentines were rather simplistic, composed of black-and-white pictures painted by the factory workers. Fancy valentines comprised of real lace and ribbons were introduced in the mid-1800s. Paper lace began to be introduced to the cards later in the 1800s, These valentines also contained delicate and artistic messages with pictures of turtledoves, lovers’ knots in gold or silver, bows and arrow, Cupids and bleeding hearts.

During the Victorian Era and its printing advances, Valentine cards became even more popular and the modern postal service of the age implmented the “penny post,” which made it easier to mail written valentines. (Prior to that time, postage was so expensive that most cards were hand-delivered and usually left on doorsteps.) Known as “penny postcards” (because they were mailed with a one-penny postage stamp), these valentine greetings were very popular from around 1890 to 1917. During this time, it was also considered “proper” to collect and display collections of postcards and trade cards in the Victorian and Edwardian parlor. Friends and guests would be invited to sit for hours, leafing through albums while they visited. This custom gained so much popularity that photographers, studios, printers and business continually strived for new and exciting subjects to satisfy a public which was anxious for innovative items in order to impress their acquaintances. To make their cards stand out, people often sought for real photographic postcards. As opposed to mass-produced lithographs, these were actual photographs made with a postcard-printed back. The photography studios frequently employed women to hand-tint and color the black-and-white images. Some of the best of these cards came from Germany…famous for its detailed and colorful lithography. Popular subjects included women, children, flowers and couples, posed and arranged in an effort to portray the idealized virtues of the Era. Indeed, it was in England that the first commercial-type valentine was produced on embossed paper, later perforated to make a lace-type design. Some of these cards contained tiny mirrors with the message: “Look at my Beloved,” while others were called “Cobweb Valentines” because the center could be lifted by a tassel to reveal a cobweb effect of paper and underneath, a picture of a couple or a romantic message.

Although pre-Victorian valentines are virtually unavailable today, but cards have survived over a century due chiefly to the fact that they began to be mass-produced around 1850. However, the majority of early Victorian valentines were customarily made by hand from honeycombed tissue, watercolors, paper puffs, colored inks, embossed paper hearts and exquisite lace. These were truly beautifully-created small works of art, often adorned with silk or satin (in addition) to lace, flowers or feathers and even gold leaf. Such fragile honeycomb designs remained the vogue until around 1909. Some of the most unusual valentines were fashioned by lonely sailors during this time…unique cards sporting seashells of various sizes employed to create hearts, flowers and other designs, or to cover heart-shaped boxes. Sailors also sent what were known as “Busk Valentines,” rounded long sticks fashioned from ivory or wood, somewhat resembling a tongue depressor but approximately five time longer. Upon these sticks, the sailor would carve hearts and other loving designs. The “Busk Valentine” was worn by the sailor’s sweetheart inside her corset. It was not unusual for a manufactured valentine of this era to cost as much as a month’s earnings, particularly the “proposal valentines” which were very popular and might contain the depiction of a church or a ring. In keeping with Victorian etiquette, it was considered improper for a lady to send a valentine greeting to a man.

Decorating Your Own Victorian Christmas Tree

The Victorians loved their Christmas trees, and decorated them lavishly. Much time was spent in the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve making homemade ornaments to suspend on the tree branches.

Today store bought decorations have largely replaced homemade ornaments. But if you would like to have Victorian Christmas tree of your own, consider making your own authentic ornaments to hang on the branches of your tree.

Victorians lit their trees with candlelight, which isn’t practical or safe today, but you can now find some stores that carry replica electric lights that mimic candlelight and clip to your tree’s branches to get you started. From there, you can complete the look with these hand-made decorations:

* String popcorn and cranberries for garland. Do every other one or design a particular pattern of your own (three cranberries, two popcorn, five cranberries, etc.) depending on how much of each color you want.

* Dip small cookies cut like snowflakes into glue and then glitter for sparking accents on your tree. To preserve them, spray lightly with either craft preservative or hairspray.

* Paint walnuts (still in the shell) with gold or silver paint. Attach a thin ribbon bow to the top with a thumbtack and hang on the tree.

* Curl small paper doilies into cones and fill with hard candies, nuts or potpourri. Attach ribbon and tie to tree branches. You can find the doilies in a variety of pretty colors.

* Recycle old Christmas cards to decorate your Victorian Christmas tree. Cut out pictures you like and glue to cardboard, then highlight with glitter or metallic fabric paint. Attach colorful ribbons and hang.

You’ll be amazed at how your Victorian Christmas tree glitters and shines with its assortment of genuine period ornaments. Now sit back with a cup of mulled cider and enjoy!