Victorian Era Culture and Customs

By: Alex Calcagno and Vanessa Scanio



During the Victorian era, in 1830-1860 was considered the Gothic Revival. The Gothic Revival brought back the medieval and darker forms of architecture. Houses, schools, and churches adapted to this type of style by changing to pointed arched windows, steeply pitched roofs, porches with columns, and overall pursuing a more castle like effect. An example of something that was built during the Victorian Era is the Eiffel Tower, which was built in 1887.


The Victorian Era is known as the high point in British literature in France, the United States, and Russia. In the early years of the Victorian Era poetry was the most common type of writing. History and biography were the two major genres in which most poems were written in. The novel became the leading form of literature, and was often written about the daily life and struggles people of that time faced. Charles Dickens was a famous author during the Victorian Era and wrote Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. Victorians are sometimes known for ‘inventing childhood’. They are known for ‘inventing childhood’ because they made a strong effort to stop children from working a job, and instead to go to school to receive a better education. When children began going to school, people began writing educational children’s books for the children to read.


Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Pepsi-Cola, Jello-O, Cream of Wheat, Tootsie Rolls, Cracker Jack, and Campbell’s soups are some popular food items that were created during the Victorian Era. Quaker Oats, National Biscuit (Nabisco), and Smucker's were also established food brands. Ginger snaps, scones, lemon cake, cucumber sandwiches, and toast with jam were common foods to be eaten at high teas.


During the Victorian Era, vocals and instruments began to mix. The instruments that were used were pianos, strings, brass, and woodwinds. Music was greatly influenced by the German and Italian cultures. One of the most famous musicians and composers of the Victorian Era was Felix Mendelssohn. Felix was most famous for composing the Wedding March in 1842.


Five O'Clock Tea

Tea was extremely common for the English to drink during the Victorian Era. They would drink it in the morning, afternoon, and night. Women enjoyed tea so much, that they often had five o’clock tea. Five o’clock tea would take place at five o’clock and all women would gather with their friends at someone’s house and socialize, while having a cup of tea. They enjoyed their tea freshly made with unboiled milk, and sugar.


Christmas began to be celebrated in 1848, 8 years after Queen Victoria married her husband, Prince Albert. Prince Albert was from Germany, and celebrating Christmas was always a tradition of his family. In 1848 the Illustrated London News published a drawing of him and Queen Victoria celebrating Christmas with the rest of their royal family. The drawing showed them celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree. Shortly after people started noticing the picture, almost every home in Britain had a Christmas tree decorated with candles, small gifts, and homemade ornaments. Houses were often decorated with evergreens. Beef and goose were the traditional meats eaten at Christmas dinner. Near the end of the Victorian Era, turkey also became a popular meat. Christmas caroling was also a common Christmas tradition.

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Etiquette was extremely important to the upper and upper-middle class during the Victorian era. Dressing in the proper clothing, and the way men spoke to women was very important. Addressing people with the appropriate title was also extremely important. Young ladies were always chaperoned, and if they were caught alone with a man, the lady’s reputation would be ruined, and the man would be gossiped about. A gentleman was only allowed to kiss a lady’s hand, forehead, or at most, the cheek.
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