Food and Drink 

Merry Christmas, Queen Victoria

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If you could afford it, coffee was pouring in from the colonies, as was sugar and cocoa – the Cadbury family made its mark in chocolate in Victorian times – and all sorts of tropical oils, bound to be the mainstay of all good chip shops.

But despite the illusion of plenty, the Industrial Revolution coupled with no social safety net meant that poverty lived next to luxury. Around the time Queen Victoria was born, about one-third of the people of London were living in dire poverty and were lucky to eat roasted rat on a stick. At the time of her coronation, an experienced weaver lucky enough to have a job earned enough to buy 30 loaves of bread a day.

Ironically, if anything has carried over to our times that commemorates Queen Victoria, it has nothing to do with May 24. She married the German Prince Albert in 1840 and from then on the Royal Family observed the German tradition of having a decorated evergreen tree in their home at Christmas. Every good Englishman – and Canadian – soon followed.

So Merry Christmas, Queen Victoria. We’ll toast you on the 25th – of December.

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer who gives the Victoria Day parade in Victoria the gold medal for having the most marching bands in one spot at one time.

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