Nothing says Christmas like a well-groomed dog riding a large pig while being whipped by a child dressed as a ballerina. 

At least, according to our Victorian ancestors. The Nova Scotia Archives has unearthed a stash of bizarre Christmas cards from the 1800s

One depicts four frogs skidding across an icy patch. Others offer children riding butterflies and chickens while another child tries to restrain a deer. A turtle and a cat face off in another.

"Certainly the image of a bulldog bursting through the card is not one you'd expect today," said senior archivist John Macleod.

'Children and animals are big with Victorians.'- John Macleod

"Children and animals are big with Victorians."

The archives acquired the collection of curious cards over the years from various donations. 

"Victorians seemed to like the whimsical side of things," he says. "They're looking for more humorous ones."

Things that are small and grow larger, or newly hatched animals, indicated the dawning of a new year and the hopes for spring. It's anyone's guess what the pig-dog-child gathering was all about. 

The archives has completed the circle and brought out a new line of 12 cards featuring the offbeat images. Another set features winter photos from a century ago. 

The cards are available at the archives in Halifax.

Check out the archive's Facebook page for more zany images.