Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Victorian New Year

Happy New Year, dear friends!
I have another postcard/trade card illustrated post for you! 
(All ephemera is from my personal collection unless otherwise noted.)

As we listen to the bells ring out the old year and ring in the new while the clock strikes twelve...

let us prepare for our Victorian New Year's Day open house. 

(Over a century ago New Year's day, rather than New Year's eve, was the time for gala entertaining and Open Houses, usually held from noon until six p.m. Tradition held that all the ladies of a family, and all boys under the age of ten, stayed at home to receive callers while the gentlemen went out to pay visits.)

Look, our first visitors of the day are here. Oh, what fun!

(photo from Victorian Family Celebrations by Sarah Ban Breathnach)

I'm so glad they brought their precious children along, it makes for such a delightful and eventful day, and...

they can take part in our New Year's Day birthday celebration later when my husband gets back from paying his visits! 
(It really is my husband's birthday and my daughter turns 15 on the 6th.)

Speaking of paying visits, arriving next door is a sleigh full of bachelor's, they have come to drop off their younger siblings and pick up a few more bachelor's so they can go and pay visits to all the eligible young ladies in town!

Newspapers would even print lists of the homes that would be open and the hours they were receiving visitors. The only requirement for admission was a calling card.
The below card has a little flap that says "Only Happy Hours" with the name of the young man being August H. Rux. 
               (Hmmm...sounds a little romantic, don't ya think?)

and when you open the flap you see a cute little photo of the young man who has come to pay a visit.

Upon arrival the young man would be introduced to the eligible women of the household, under the watchful eyes of parents and relatives. 
Not surprisingly, the custom quickly became sport. Young men would try to rack up as many as 50 calls a day (being more interested in becoming intoxicated than in meeting their hosts' eligible daughters)! Young women would angrily collect calling cards as if they were butterfly specimens! By the late 1880's the hospitality of the day had been so abused that opening up one's house on New Year's Day to strangers was snuffed out by social disapproval. During the 1890's the tradition of New Year's Eve open houses evolved into "family calls" and receptions for invited guests only. After WWI, the custom of New Year's Day "calling" disappeared and New Year's Eve parties became the popular thing to do. 
(above info from Victorian Family Celebrations by Sarah Ban Breathnach)

With the New Year came wishes of prosperity, good fortune and good luck. Depicting as symbols of good luck on the above postcards are the steamboat's pilot wheel, a wishbone and a horseshoe.

Below is my New Year's greeting to you, the angels depicting each of you, my sweet blogger friends.

I want to thank each and every one of you for following and reading my blog this past year and for your friendship. I get so much joy and inspiration from reading your blogs, I hope you get that from mine as well. From my house to yours, have a blessed 2015!

I am joining the following parties, please come and join us.
WHAT'S IT WEDNESDAY with Paula and Patti


  1. Happy New Year Gina. It's always so much fun to see your wonderful postcard collection. Thanks for the story also, I live in a Victorian home but don't really know the customs that went on then..Hope you had a great Christmas and happy birthday to your hubby and daughter..Judy

  2. Bellissime le tue cartoline,mi portano in un mondo di sogni!BUON ANNO!Rosetta

  3. Just lovely Gina. I LOVE the calling card with the photo, (What a find!)Great job! Glad we met, I always enjoy your posts.
    Hugs and happy new year!

  4. Happy birthday to your husband and daughter! As I look at your beautiful cards, I wish I could jump in a few, especially the one of the horse drawn carriage pulling up to that beautiful Victorian. How lovely.
    Happy New Year to you and your family

  5. Thank you so much for the interesting historym Gina. Your cards are lovely, great collection! Happy New Year!...Christine

  6. Gina,
    Love the beautiful graphics and the history lesson!! Are you surprised to know that I have Sarah Ban Breathnach's book plus her simple abundance book and a few others whose titles escape me right now???
    So glad to have met you this past year and enjoyed your friendship!!

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!!

    Many Hugs,

  7. This was such an interesting post! I've always wondered about calling cards and house visits on New Year's day. Best wishes for you and your family for 2013!

  8. What a charming post! The calling card you featured is certainly special with the hidden photo. And your silver tussie mussie highlights the elegance of Victorian entertaining.

    Enjoy the birthday celebration and Happy New Year 1913! (Or 2013 depending on which era you choose to recognize.)


  9. What charming old cards! Thanks so much for all your lovely visits throuhgout the year. I hope your New Year is wonderful!

  10. Happy New Year Gina... What a delightful presentation of calling cards and memorabilia...Happy Birthday to your family members..I'm sure there will be lots of Christmas goodies left for the parties ...OMG an OPEN HOUSE... I'd love to come( Ha Ha) for tea and get a first hand look around ... You've painted such a beautiful wintry scene with all your lovely cards.... It's a fabulous collection ..Thanks for sharing, Dear Lady... Wishing you the blessings of joy and happiness throughout 2013.


  11. I love the old calling cards , I had some made up through Victorian Trading Company

    I have a few I have found in boxes at auctions, I think they are so romantic , a way a gentleman could not forget your name ? LOL

    Happy New Year

    I won't be buying much this year since I am down sizing, I have got to get busy and get my etsy shop open , I have lots of small things to sell
    Taking a load to Expo indoor garage sale Feb 23, however I don't have much Victorian things except velvet boxes and Autograph books? I will let you know

  12. Interesting history on visiting in the 1880s and 90s, along with all of those great postcards. Thanks Gina!!

  13. Thanks for sharing the Victorian way of celebrating the New Year, I knew a lot of Victorian Traditions faded away after World War I. I just love the calling card with the picture. Wishing you a Happy New Year...Mickie

  14. This is so interesting! I did not know that about New Year's Day. I would love to see it played out on Downton Abbey!

  15. We have lots of birthdays in our family in December, among them my hubbies and daughters. Happy birthday to yours and thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY...