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The Victorians were fortunate in the respect that they abided in somewhat more radical times than our 17th-century ancestors.

For in 1647, the Puritans - in the form of the Long Parliament of Cromwell - banned Christmas revelry altogether.

Only after the Restoration thirteen years later were celebrations brought, once more, to the fore, and even in King Henry VIII's day, games were restricted to Christmas time alone.

The nostalgic Victorians were responsible for resurrecting Christmas as we now know it, and they celebrated the festive season with much gusto.

That great British institution, the pantomime, was an exciting Christmas ritual for all, and from Boxing Day onwards all the major theatres around Britain were packed to capacity with patrons eager to see a lavishly-staged play.

The Victorians were particularly fond of parlor games, a number of which have since been forgotten, though a select few have been passed down to successive generations and remain firm favorites even today.

Victorian families were among the first ever to be blessed with abundant free time, and among the last to pass that time without television.

They enjoyed numerous interactive parlor activities, ranging from cards (euchre, bridge, seven-up) and board games (dominoes, checkers, chess) to 20 Questions and charades.

Young ladies and their mothers spent their leisure time learning needlecrafts, creating ornaments, and reading novels.

Popular titles of the age include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES and L. Male and female family members alike frequently gathered around a parlor organ, a piano, or a player piano to have "a sing." New entertainment technologies of the year included the phonograph, a stand-alone console for playing back recorded audio programs, and the stereograph, a handheld device for viewing 3-D-like images.

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