Part of what makes the holidays the holidays for me is attending a few festive events during the Christmas season. While I love to travel both near and far, this event took place right in the Land of Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois. I have been trying to take advantage of some of the wonderful history Springfield has to offer.
This year my mom Lori Disque and I attended a lovely Victorian Christmas Tea. Held at Edwards Place in Springfield, Illinois, the night was balmy for December and neighbors were even having a porch party which is not at all like normal Midwest winters.
We entered the lovely 1850’s home where the Tea Ladies presented Victorian customs sharing how Christmas was celebrated by those living in the Victorian era. The Victorian era covers the time in British history during Queen Victoria’s reign from 20 June 1837 until her death, on 22 January 1901. “We use PG Tips tea, Queen Elizabeth’s favorite tea,” the Tea Ladies shared.
The tea was held in the dining room of this historic home. Edwards Place is the oldest house in Springfield on its original foundation. Abraham Lincoln celebrated many social events at Edwards Place. The owner of the home Benjamin Edwards was related to Ninian Edwards who married Elizabeth Todd, Mary Todd Lincoln’s sister.
Lincoln would have celebrated Christmas following some of the traditions the tea ladies introduced. The Complete Victorian website offered some of the information the ladies conveyed about how Christmas trees came to be. “In 1841 Prince Albert, German husband of Queen Victoria, introduced the charming custom to the royal family. In 1850 a tinted etching of a decorated tree at Windsor Castle was published and the Tannenbaum tradition became a necessity for every fashionable Victorian home.”
The ladies stressed that Christmas was not a time of expensive presents, but handmade small gifts were the thing of the time. “The presentation of the gifts was as important as the gift itself,” the ladies shared.
Christmas cards were introduced during the Victorian era and they had several lovely examples to share. “The cards were not put in the mail box, but delivered on Christmas day,” the Tea Ladies said.
My favorite Victorian item on display was a belsnickel a lovely St. Nicholas with booted feet that held candy. I want one!
The Tea Ladies have many events throughout the year, the next I am aware of is “Cupid’s Tea” which will be at the Vrooman Mansion B&B in Bloomington, Illinois. Check out their website at www.thetealadies.com.
Edwards Place is also open for touring and is the home of the Springfield Art Association.