During the Regency, the conduct of young persons, particularly in company, was a topic of intense discussion. Any prospect of activities between eligible females and males was of primary concern.
The onset of Christmas amusements was viewed as particularly dangerous:
“..there are employments which pass under the name of gambols that are quite unworthy of engaging the attention of rational creatures, and ought at least to be confined to children.”
What are these gambols that elicit such alarm? They are physical activities, not unlike Twelfth Night dancing. What objection is there to games such as blind man’s buff or drawing king and queen?
Why must such diversions as hunt the slipper and its “co-evel and co-savage companion,” hunt the whistle be consigned to children?
“..hot cockles, questions and commands, and the various modifications of forfeits, ..may do very well for such as are only two or three degrees removed infancy, either in age or intellect.”
How very lowering!
The very thought of engaging in such games seemed to arouse intense disparagement. Particular contempt was reserved for those country cousins consigned to such silliness. The very nature of their holiday celebration was looked down upon by their sophisticated town relatives:
“..the thoughts of all your grotesque sports, Christmas gambols, mistletoe kissing, stupid rubbers, starched parties, and scandal manufactories, so operated in my mind… for me to take the chance of another season in town.”
It wouldn’t be until the Victorian period that sentiment for gambols, extended festivals and decorations for Christmas would come into full-fledged favor. A flowering, if you will, of the Dickensian image we know and love today.