You don’t see Christmas carolers much anymore, except maybe in shopping malls or preplanned shows, although many of us have fond memories of going caroling as children. Some houses expected us, and had treats ready when the music ended. But in the Victorian era, carolers were regarded as merely beggars, or even extortionists, who were often drunk and could get violent if they weren’t tipped well enough.
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Many people dreaded the oncoming Christmas carol season, taking to the papers many weeks before-hand to air their trepidation at the youths who, as this reader writes in October 1861, will be getting… “their various mouths to every hinge, key-hole, letter-box, and opening of the doors and roar out in miserable discord (often two opposing companies together) names and events which all should hold sacred, the next moment running away with ribald jests, or cursing, swearing and quarrelling over the coppers they have received, as a tax to the nuisance”.
Read about the nuisance of Christmas carolers, including some accounts of violence, at News from the Past.