Charles Dickens is credited by some with inventing the modern Christmas. That, of course, is far too simple, but there is no doubt that this giant among Victorian writers spotted his fellow countrymen's need for an annual national celebration and exploited it in spectacular fashion. Christmas was rarely acknowledged in print before A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, but the combination of the book's popularity and Victoria's accession to the throne a few years earlier changed forever the public attitude to the festive season. This text traces the growth of seasonal celebrations during the 19th century. As the century progressed, Christmas came to be seen as a family occasion, as well as a time when the middle and upper classes would remember the needy, but there was also a tendency to look back nostalgically at a mythical golden past.
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