30 Fascinating Victorian Traditions We Can't Believe Existed

By Sophia Maddox | March 30, 2024

Victorian-Era Juicing

The Victorian era was a time of contrarian ideals: They covered themselves completely but fetishized the female figure, they were obsessed with cleanliness but practically lived in a sewer, and they prized marriage and family above all things but sold their wives at auction. It's possible that the Victorians couldn't see the forest for the trees, but maybe they were just a generation full of weirdos.

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(Getty Images)

Performance-enhancing drugs date back a lot further than Jose Canseco. Not only did athletes juice up to compete, they did so for the lamest competitions, specifically pedestrianism, otherwise known as long-distance walking. These walkers covered hundreds of miles over the course of a few days, all while chewing coca leaves to stave off fatigue and sipping "tonics" that included strychnine as a main ingredient. Sometimes, they even injected the stuff to keep them going, even as their respiratory systems shut down.

We Wish You A Morbid Christmas

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(Collectors Weekly)

Christmas cards in the Victorian era weren't your standard "awkwardly posed family smiling in front of a fake tree." They featured anthropomorphic food, dead animals, and scenes of pure violence, all alongside festive greetings to one's friends and neighbors. At a time when winter could earnestly mean death for any of your loved ones, some gallows humor was necessary.