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December 20, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Curious Greetings.

Frogs frolicking in a pond. Party hop. 1895 vintage Christmas card by Socki and Nathan (USPD., artist life/Commonswikimedia)

How the Christmas party hops across The Pond. (1895 Christmas card/USPD/Commonswikimedia)

Apparently you have to be Victorian to get it.

Frog murder and boiled children” And you thought that sinister Elf on a Shelf was creepy.

It would be a Christmas miracle if any children of the Victorian Era ever managed to sleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads after receiving some of these Christmas cards.

Especially charming is the dead robin with the greeting of “May yours be a joyous Christmas”.

Don’t miss the monkey painting the dog’s portrait while another monkey lurks with a weapon in the background. Or the frog on frog stabbing before one takes off with a wad of cash. Or the cute little girl bullying the snowman. Or one boy threatening another with a whip.

So why were such odd things featured on Christmas cards?

“They’re only odd to our eyes,” says Ms Boydell (curator of special collections at Manchester Metropolitan University)

“The Victorians had a different idea to what Christmas was about – not particularly Christian, but a time of good humour. You may find a mouse riding a lobster strange – I find it funny. It’s horses for courses.” 

To add a bit of merriment to your holiday, some unique Victorian Christmas cards are gathered here.

You won’t want to miss the other frogs, the dog who wants a gun for Christmas, a policeman who better watch out, or those fun loving lovely Victorian ladies adding mirth for the holidays by rolling what looks to be either Father Christmas or an old homeless guy…

Maybe we’ve forgotten mirth along with the myrrh

Odd. The last one’s often called “The Wise Man’s Cure”, but both might go a long way to help people today.

Anyway, I agree with the BBC article: Nothing says Merry Christmas like a mouse riding a lobster!

Jingle on with style and smiles

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

(Semi-blogging break – Just a few posts created earlier and stashed back until now) 

Victorian Christmas card with mouse riding a lobster (BBC article/USPD. artist life,

UPDATE: We are staying on top of things here. A bit of reprieve on the medical front as first round of stuff done with the daily treatments to begin in Jan. So far family member has experienced minor side effects. Counting as a Christmas miracle. Posts will happen as time and energy. This was too good to pass up. (Victorian Christmas card/USPD/BBC news)


  1. shoreacres / Dec 20 2020 8:27 am

    Just got a card that I’m certainly going to share. It includes this: “Dear 2020: Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.” How Texan — and really quite merry and smile producing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 20 2020 9:49 am

      Texas is said to have more colorful idioms than any other state. Creative language – it is so characteristic. Maybe from those wild, brave, and rough beginnings…scoundrels, and outcasts, they say HAHA!
      Will have to see that card in person!
      Thanks for mailing that in!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. sustainabilitea / Dec 20 2020 10:48 am

    I know we always have the mouse-lobster thing at Christmas. Not. The Victorian Christmas sinister Christmas reminds me of Grimm’s fairy tales, the original ones. They could well be call Grim fairy tales. And on that happy note…



  3. robstroud / Dec 20 2020 12:32 pm

    You’re quite generous in calling these cards “curious.” Having followed up your delightful column with a visit to BBC, I think many of them merit the adjective grotesque (particularly the dead robin…). Those secular Victorians were a peculiar lot.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 21 2020 3:29 pm

      Our Natural Science Museum has a permanent exhibit “Cabinet of Curiosities” which includes all sorts of weird things that were appreciated – many by the Victorians.
      It is a fascinating bunch of stuff – odd what caught their eye as valuable or intriguing. Curio Cabinets filled with objects from travels were common in that era even here –
      The ordinary items of the general public of an era are the real history. British writing (and political cartoons/satires) have a long record of humor. Remember the “Old Curiosity Shop” by Dickens?(Queen Victoria found it “very interesting and cleverly written”). A bit of an odd story. Even Shakespeare has some odd humor (supposedly for the “penny stinker” crowd?)
      While the historian says there were many traditional snowy scenes type cards, these odd ones appear to have been popular. Wit and sarcasm was once desirable…but a mouse on a lobster – that’s a winner.
      Glad you got a giggle. Jingle on!


  4. Kate Crimmins / Dec 20 2020 1:33 pm

    Count me out too. Yikes! Back to Frosty and Rudolph! Good news about the medical stuff. One more procedure this week and we are done until next year too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 21 2020 3:13 pm

      The historian said that actually there were many more traditional subject matter cards with snowy scenes and churches and flowers – but these are the ones that continue to draw attention. (Do you remember the Mad Magazine snarky Valentines cards? They were similar, but on such thin paper probably none survived. These Victorian ones were quite detailed even with the odd jokes.)
      Frosty and Rudolf hope your week is chill. Thanks for signing a comment to leave here

      Liked by 1 person

  5. beth / Dec 20 2020 2:50 pm

    i’m endlessly fascinated by these cards from the victorian era, always so bizarre and interesting


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 21 2020 3:09 pm

      These cards are just too much fun to ignore. Such detail and artwork for something as ordinary as a greeting card. Treasures indeed. Thanks for musing along

      Liked by 1 person

      • beth / Dec 21 2020 7:05 pm

        there is so much creative thought behind them


  6. marina kanavaki / Dec 21 2020 7:28 am

    The Brits are known for their black humor… goes way back! 😉
    You gotta love these!
    Wishing you jingly, merry and healthy days, my friend!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 21 2020 3:06 pm

      Once wit and humor were considered traits to be cultivated. All of the seasonal greeting cards like Halloween and Valentines of this era are so unique – and funny…like much of their literature. People seem to need refresher courses in laughter. Glad these brightened your day. Paw waves to Hera from a tired Molly who finally got to run and run and run today with friends as it stopped raining and is sunny. Thanks for merry-ing along


      • marina kanavaki / Dec 22 2020 2:27 am

        Tail wags back and paw waves from a rather annoyed Hera who is also affected by our lockdown. Only humor can get us through this, so thanks again! 🐾🙏


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 22 2020 7:30 am

          It sounded like it was coming to you again. Sigh. We all know meditation is good for so many reasons…but seriously enough pondering the same things! HAHA
          Lucky there’s art and music…and of course dogs. 🐕
          May peace and amusement find it’s way to you and yours! Merry Christmas


          • marina kanavaki / Dec 22 2020 10:00 am

            Very very lucky indeed!
            Joy to you too my friend and your loved ones!!!
            Merry Christmas!🎅🎄


  7. Maggie Wilson / Dec 21 2020 7:44 am

    May the Christmas miracles continue!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 21 2020 3:02 pm

      If everyone focuses on goodness and light – even for a few seconds, it’s bound to happen! Thanks for adding to the comment delight

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Coastal Crone / Dec 22 2020 3:33 pm

    I don’t really get the Victorian humor but I love it! An the British has a crooked sense of humor too. And I love vintage cards – thanks for the link.


  9. disperser / Dec 24 2020 7:23 am

    Hmm . . . I seem to have missed a few posts. I normally get a notice in my mailbox but I either didn’t receive notices for these, or they got accidentally blown away (unlikely). I checked the subscription and it’s still active, so if I miss any more, I’ll try unsubscribing and re-subscribing (that usually works).

    Anyway, I agree these are too good to pass up, and I’m glad for the medical reprieve.

    Merry Mouse Riding a Lobster to you and yours!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 31 2020 4:05 pm

      (I’m trying to get caught up on comments) Hmmm. Have you noticed that every Dec. WP starts fiddling with stuff in the back office – always unstable and quirky for years and years…I guess bloggers are supposed to be off doing other things in Dec? Don’t know if you sneak peek on the WP construction blogs. Looks like a lot is planned and going to be rolled out (but they seemed to have noticed how unhappy people were with the last sudden round.
      Here’s one discussion. If these people think “It’s going to be an interesting year” what will it seem like to long term WP bloggers?
      Hope the stars are clear and bright for you on New Years night


    • disperser / Dec 31 2020 6:33 pm

      The scary part about that article?

      “While the last few years may have felt like a whirlwind of changes to our beloved platform, you ain’t seen nothing yet”

      The annoying thing is that they are answering the needs of developers . . . and forgetting about the users. Piss-poor customer management . . . are you sure RC isn’t running WP’s development team?



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