Steve told me about these painful-sounding Victorian Christmas parlor games and after I stopped wincing and covering my face, I started to envision what would happen if somehow, someone of that era could visit current day us, sort of like those old Freedom 55 commercials.
I can see it all now. “You folks are wimps! You bob for apples, and there is no flame? You play Blind Man’s Bluff and don’t set out to trip the blindfolded guy up? You’ve all gone soft I tell you!”
The one that made me scream the most was this one.
Indeed, in the early years of Queen Victoria’s rule, Christmas rivaled Spring Break for sheer bawdiness and self-destruction. Nowhere is this more evident than in the bonkers Victorian parlor game of Snapdragon.
Traditionally played on Christmas Eve, players of Snapdragon must find themselves a broad, shallow bowl, and then prepare to risk their health. Into this bowl should be poured two dozen raisins. If raisins are hard to come by, almonds, grapes or plums will suffice. You should then pour a bottle of brandy into the bowl so that the raisins bob up and down like drowning flies. Place the bowl on a sturdy table, turn the lights down low, and then, with appropriate panache, ignite the brandy.
To play Snapdragon, arrange your family and friends around the blazing bowl so that their faces are lit in a demonic fashion and then, one by one, take turns plunging your hands into the flames in order to try and grab a raisin. If you can accomplish this, promptly extinguish the flaming raisin by popping it into your mouth and eating it.
Reading this reminds me of Steve’s old 19th century April Fools post. Yup, similar time, similar scary practices.
As an aside, while digging for an old Freedom 55 commercial, I came across this bizarre parody. Steve, can you identify these guys? Heck, can anyone identify these guys?
Merry Christmas everyone, and…stay away from the snapdragon.