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