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Birthday Celebrations

On the birthday of Nellie McClung, we wanted to explore some of the ways that she may have rung in her birthday during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Although she very much lived in Canada, traditions from across the pond in England were still common and thus many of the customs were still practiced.

On her birthday, Nellie may have celebrated by:

  1. Having a cake: Yes! This was a common tradition even in the 1800s and early 1900s. These cakes often concealed a special object in its batter– such as thimbles, coins, or other treasures. This is still a common tradition in some modern Canadian households as well. Although the style is somewhat fading out, we do recall having birthday cakes with loonies and toonies at a time!

  2. Flowers: A beautiful, timeless gesture. Much alike modern birthdays, many Victorians or Edwardians may have received a bouquet of flowers for their birthday. You can never go wrong with flowers!

  3. Birthday Cards: This became a common tradition around the 1900s.

  4. Birthday Bumps: You may remember receiving these when you were just a kid!

  5. House Key: Responsible young adults (at 21), especially young men, may have been given a key to the house in order to symbolize their responsibility and coming of age.

  6. Drinking Squash: No, not ACTUAL squash! This drink would be infused with an orange or lemon syrup instead. Much tastier than the likely results of a squash flavoured birthday drink!

We hope you enjoyed learning about how Nellie may have celebrated her birthday during her time!


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