"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Five Days to Christmas: Yule Frogs!

Five Days to Christmas: Yule Frogs!

From “A Hearty Christmas Greeting” in Vintage Christmas Traditions edited by Linda Davies:

“We don’t associate Christmas with frogs today, [but] the verse on this Victorian card comes with a strict lesson:

Four jovial Froggies a skating would go;
They asked their mamma,
But she’d sternly said, ‘No!’
And they all came to grief in a beautiful row.
There’s a sweet Christmas moral for one not too slow.
Just so!”

From Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders:

“In the 1880s German-imported ‘dresdens’ came into fashion, embossed boxes of pressed cardboard, lacquered to look like polished metal, in shapes that included ‘dogs, cats, suns, moons… frogs, turtles… a whole sea full of fish… a virtual zoo of exotic creatures, including polar bears, camels, storks, eagles and peacocks’, as well as items from the modern world: bicycles, skates, sleds and ships. Unlike the cornucopias, dresdens were luxury items, many costing more than their contents: in 1882, golden dresdens shaped like angels cost a whopping 12¢ each.”

From “A True Tale” by John Berwick Harwood in The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, edited by Tara Moore:

“After a short pause my aunt took her part in the conversation, and we found ourselves listening to a weird legend which the old lady told exceedingly well. One tale led to another. Every one was called on in turn to contribute to the public entertainment, and story after story, always relating to demonology and witchcraft, succeeded. It was Christmas, the season for such tales; and the old room, with its dusky walls and pictures, and vaulted roof, drinking up the light so greedily, seemed just fitted to give effect to such legendary lore….

“The huge logs crackled and burnt with glowing warmth; the blood-red glare of the Yule log flashed on the faces of the listeners and narrator, on the portraits, and the holly wreathed about their frames, and the upright old dame in her antiquated dress and trinkets, like one of the originals of the pictures stepped from the canvas to join our circle. It threw a shimmering lustre of an ominously ruddy hue upon the oaken panels. No wonder that the ghost and goblin stories had a new zest….”


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