Thursday, June 9, 2011

Of Grandeur and Gifts: A Small Glimpse into Victorian Birthdays

Recently I stumbled across a cute little tibdit on Victorian birthdays and gift giving that made me smile--and naturally think of Gone with the Wind, of course:

"Birthdays were celebrated in grandeur and gifts between the family members became integral to the Victorian Christmas. The wealthy looked upon fatherhood largely to lavish gifts and paying of sons debts, while in the middle-class, gift-giving was looked upon one's financial capabilities. Unfortunately, the mother very often could not compete in the area of gift-giving, thus the act of gift-giving become symbolic as to the exclusive duty of the father providing for his children."

The quote above refers to Victorian England, but I couldn't help but think it had a nice parallel to Rhett and his approach to spoiling Bonnie rotten fatherhood. It's not hard to imagine Rhett going completely overboard in buying Bonnie birthday presents--and being rather generous to Wade and Ella too, for that matter. 

In fact, I often wish Gone with the Wind provided us more glimpses into how birthdays were spent in the Butler household. It would have be fascinating to see how Scarlett and Rhett celebrated each others' birthdays, for instance, both before and after their estrangement--or if they even knew each others' actual birthdays at all, given their mutual hesistancy to share personal details and Scarlett's secrecy over her exact age. I'd also love to see just how lavishly they celebrated the children's birthdays and what kind of gifts they bestowed. But, alas, we have so little to go on, beyond the few tantalizing details MM mentions about the day of Bonnie's birth.

So I'd like to turn it over to you all and get your thoughts. How do you think Rhett and Scarlett and family celebrated their birthdays? Or any other characters in GWTW for that matter?

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