- Nov 26, 2016
- central NC
Caroling is a European tradition that became especially popular during the Middle Ages. Groups of singers would go from house to house, singing songs and entertaining with skits in return for sweetcakes, a warming drink, or charity money. However, Christmas caroling became exceptionally popular during the 19th century when many of today’s favorite holiday classics were written.
A traditional caroler’s outfit from the 1840s-1860s was ideal because the layers of skirts, high neck and long, full sleeves were toasty warm. A lady in the mid-1800s would have worn two, three or even four petticoats to plump up her gown, even if she was wearing hoops underneath which probably did wonders to block out the icy wind. Of course, any 19th century woman would have the added benefit of wearing a slip and corset to keep her warm and in form. At least all those layers came in handy for something!
Those lovely accessories like fur-lined capes, tartan wraps, big bonnets, and soft handmuffs – all popular during the 19th century - kept fingers and noses safe from Old Man Winter. The children didn’t have to stay out of the fun because of the cold either. It appears that up until about 1900, most children’s clothes were scaled-down versions of what their parents wore.
Just for fun, here’s a list of carols written during or before the 1860s:
Angels from the Realms of Glory (1816)
Angels We Have Heard on High (1862)
Come Buy my Nice Fresh Ivy or O’Carolan’s Lament (1849)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (1833)
Good King Wenceslas (1853)
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (1855)
Jingle Bells (1857)
Joy to the World (1839)
O Christmas Tree (1824)
O Holy Night (1847)
Silent Night (1859)
We Three Kings (1863)
What Child is This (1865)