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  • Writer's pictureFiona Appleton-Thorn

"Merry Christmas- We're Getting Married!"

The seasonal holiday has long been associated with gift giving and there is also an increase of marriage proposals around this time. Yet, travel back in time on your ancestral search and you will see multiple marriages (not proposals) in the church records for December the 25th. Romantic? Probably not.

While getting married on Christmas Day in the modern era is an extremely costly affair, with venue costs and restricted availability of ministers, back in the 18th and 19th Century it was the cheapest option.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day were typically the only days off work the couples were virtually guaranteed to have. "Working Class" people did just that, because no work meant no pay. They did not have employee rights at that time, so time off was not a choice. This would also have reduced the number of guests or witnesses that could attend the ceremony and the celebrations that followed.

The Church of England provided free weddings and baptisms on Christmas Day. There were often multiple couples at the same church ceremony, who had their marriages performed simultaneously. These were standard ceremonies with the bare essentials, integrated into the Christmas Service of the well attended parish.

When finding a marriage record or baptism for December 25th, it obviously confirms the union of the couple, but it could also be pointing to their economic situation. There are exceptions of course.

During the war years in the 20th Century there were multiple marriages performed on this day for service men and women who were given a brief home leave. Sadly, some of these sweethearts were never to meet again as the war claimed so many.

Seeing the factual records when searching for your family tree can often encourage the dehumanization of the events. Finding your ancestors can be so much more than a paper trail if you take the time to consider them as people, not just names. It can lead you to uncover elusive connections, bigamists, adulterers', thieves, convicts, lunatics, nuns, war heroes, vagrants, murderers, or even their victims.

If you'd love to know more about your family, but don't perhaps have the time or patience to build an evidenced tree, all is not lost. Another Leaf Genealogy applies the human side to searches on your behalf. We provide affordable search services with both standard research packages and monthly options. You can find out more about these and how we help build credible trees for people like you.

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