Victorian Christmas Parlor Game Will Leave You Burned.......Literally

Most of the Christmas traditions we take for granted today are Victorian inventions. Christmas trees, Christmas stockings and Christmas carols didn’t exist much before the 1840s. Yet, while these are somewhat diverting, the most exciting and outrageous Victorian traditions have been almost totally forgotten. One tradition — the Victorian parlor game of Snapdragon — was played exclusively on Christmas Eve. Players had to find a broad, shallow bowl, and then prepare to risk their health. Into the bowl they poured two dozen raisins. If raisins were hard to come by, almonds, grapes or plums would do. Then a bottle of brandy was poured into the bowl so that the raisins bobbed up and down like drowning flies. The bowl was placed on a sturdy table, the lights were turned down low, and then the brandy was ignited. Players arranged themselves around the blazing bowl so that their faces were lit, and then — one by one — they took turns plunging their hands into the flames in order to try and grab a raisin. If a player was successful in grabbing a raisin, they would extinguish the flaming raisin by popping it into their mouth and eating it. For the steadfast Victorian, nothing announced it was Christmas morning better than blistered hands, burned lips and a scorched palate. So yes, the Christmas we celebrate today is Victorian in nature, but it's a far cry from the flaming festival of yore.