Fascinating Victorian Traditions We Can't Believe Existed

By Sophia Maddox | May 9, 2024

Arsenic For All

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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(Molly Brown House Museum)

Victorians were just as obsessed with their bodies as we are, if not more dangerously. Many women used arsenic, the carcinogenic poison, to fight wrinkles, and men swallowed arsenic tablets as a kind of pre-Pfizer Viagra. It's unclear if arsenic can actually be used to turn compasses to true north, but it doesn't seem advisable to try it.

Visiting Hours

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Today, the standard "wyd?" text is the only requirement to arrange an impromptu hangout, but that wasn't the case for Victorians. Ladies were expected to be ready to host visitors from three to six in the afternoon, with any time after reserved for very close friends and relatives, and anyone else who showed up outside those times was considered a serious jerk.