“The old halls of castles and manor — houses resounded with the harp and the Christmas carol, and their ample boards groaned under the weight of hospitality. Even the poorest cottage welcomed the festive season with green decorations of bay and holly — the cheerful fire glanced its rays through the lattice, inviting the passenger to raise the latch, and join the gossip knot huddled round the hearth, beguiling the long evening with legendary jokes and oft-told Christmas tales.”
From The Victorian Christmas by Anna Selby:
“[If] the Victorians could not be said to have invented Christmas itself, they certainly invented many of its most popular trappings. The Christmas pudding, the Christmas card, the Christmas pantomime, Christmas crackers, most of our famous Christmas carols (along with the earlier traditional ones they embellished and generally improved) and Father Christmas himself in the form we know him today. It was Prince Albert who brought the Christmas tree to England from his native Germany and, after a picture showing the royal family crowding around it in wonder, the Christmas tree became, within a very short time — along with the red-coated Father Christmas and the red-breasted robin — symbolic of the English Christmas. Prince Albert also made gingerbread and other German confectionary an essential part of the English Christmas and he is often regarded as one of the men who invented the Victorian Christmas. The other is, without doubt, Charles Dickens. So, draw up a chair to the roaring fire and let Dickens introduce you in the Victorian idea of Christmas.”
“Being now at home again, and alone, the only person in the house awake, my thoughts are drawn back, by a fascination which I do not care to resist, to my own childhood. I begin to consider, what do we all remember best upon the branches of the Christmas Tree of our own young Christmas days, by which we climbed to real life.
“Straight, in the middle of the room, cramped in the freedom of its growth by no encircling walls or soon-reached ceiling, a shadowy tree arises; and, looking up into the dreamy brightness of its top…. I look into my youngest Christmas recollections!”