Did Charles Dickens Really Invent Christmas – Ask His Descendant

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Dickens’ Dream by Robert William Buss (1875) Charles Dickens Museum (Public Domain)

Did Charles Dickens Really Invent Christmas – Ask His Descendant

The year 1843, was to mark a turning point in how the British – and eventually much of the wider world – celebrated Christmas. Not only was it the year in which Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, was published; it was also the year in which the first commercial Christmas card was created. Henry Cole, a busy London civil servant, commissioned the artist John Callcott Horsley to design a card for him, which he sent to family, friends, and business associates in place of the expected Christmas letters. His extra cards were sold commercially. It is perhaps no coincidence that these two events took place in the same year, as both men were unwittingly capturing what was an as-yet-unrecognized zeitgeist: a desire for a change to the ways in which people in Britain marked the Christmas season.

An engraving published in the 1840s of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert created a craze for Christmas trees (Public Domain)

An engraving published in the 1840s of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert created a craze for Christmas trees (Public Domain)

Every year, newspapers around the world continue to publish stories about Charles Dickens and his role in the creation of the Victorian Christmas and, inevitably, at every festive season, a journalist or vlogger somewhere will credit Dickens with having “invented” Christmas. Of course, that is untrue, but what Dickens can be credited with is having helped to bring about a renaissance in the ways in which Christmas was celebrated.


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