Happy Winter! I thought you might enjoy this December 1896 article from The Sun, about the joys of indoor ice skating.

The Sun, December 13, 1896

The Sun, December 13, 1896

Loved the comment: “…to say nothing of countless hordes of barbarians in the shape of small boys….”

The advantages of indoor rinks were multiple. No worry about softening/cracking ice, no wind, no extraordinary cold or other vagaries of weather, no clearing of snowfall from the rink.

Indoors or out, ice skating was an appealing pastime for the Victorians. Here are four reasons why:

1. Courtship:

Men and women could interact more casually and get physically closer than they ever could in a drawing room. After all, a true gentleman couldn’t allow a lady to fall, could he?

The Sun, Dec 13, 1896.

The Sun, December 13, 1896.

2. Class-Blindness:

Whether purchased or rented, a pair of skates cost relatively little, as did the price of admission. The grocer and his family could be whizzing along right beside the banker or the debutante.

3. Physical Exercise:

A slippery surface is a fairly level playing field, so to speak, and a woman wasn’t considered any less of a lady if she skated better than a gentleman (I’d give extra props to the lady for having to deal with skirts!). Either sex has an equal chance of falling down. Here was an opportunity for a Victorian woman to be active without appearing “hoydenish.”

Speaking of falling down…

4. A Chance to be Silly:

The Sun, December 13, 1896.

The Sun, December 13, 1896.

Ice skating was one of the few 19th century social situations where one could show fear or delight – laugh, squeal, scream – without censure.

Want more 19th century winter pastimes? Check out these posts:

Ice Skating in Central Park

Sledding, 19th century style


Do you enjoy ice skating or other winter sports, or is curling up by the fire with a book your favorite winter pastime? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,


Reminder: Unseemly Ambition Giveaway


To celebrate the release of my most recent Concordia Wells mystery, Unseemly Ambition, I’m holding a prize giveaway. There’s still time to get your name in!

Click here for easy ways to get your name in the drawing, and a list of prizes!

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