On this day 178 years ago, a Christmas classic was published and it changed everything. Charles Dickens’s Christmas classic A Christmas Carol was published on December 19, 1843, and with it, the traditional Christmas that we are so familiar with was born.
Dicken’s A Christmas Carol didn’t so much as create the Christmas traditions that we readily partake in today, but rather it captured the zeitgeist of the Victorian era and the way they revived Christmas as one of the biggest holidays celebrated in the Western world. Before the Victorians, Christmas wasn’t the most important holiday on the Christian calendar so it wasn’t as widely celebrated in the way we do so today.
However, by the mid 19th century, the Victorians transformed Christmas into a family-oriented celebration. At the center of Christmas was the focus on family and charity. It all of a sudden became a show-stopping holiday with new traditions being created left and right, and that Victorian revival gave way to the commercial Christmas celebrations of today. The warmth of being with family, the excitement of giving and receiving gifts, the ostentatious and cheerful Christmas decorations, and the great, big wonderful Christmas feast—the Victorians gave rise to a new sense of celebrating Christmas.
Even the British royal family contributed to new Christmas traditions. In 1848, the newspaper published a drawing of the royal family celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree, a tradition that Prince Albert brought with him from his childhood in Germany. Unsurprisingly, every Victorian home with the means to do so got a Christmas tree decorated with baubles and ornaments.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens captured this picturesque Victorian Christmas. The book encapsulated the Victorian sense of Christmas cheer and soon became a Christmas classic. It forever popularized commercial Christmas celebrations and traditions that we love and readily partake in today.