Victorian Christmas Tree

The Christmas traditions we celebrate today owe much to the Victorian era. Decorating a tree, sending Christmas cards, and singing carols — all these were popularized in Victorian times.

The tree, a German tradition, took hold in England after Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert of Germany. In 1841 he began the custom of decorating a large tree in Windsor Castle, and the above print, showing the royal family with their tree, appeared in the 1848 Illustrated London News. Of course, anything the Queen initiated, the rest of the country soon emulated.

In America, the tradition of the Christmas tree was spread by German immigrants, but did not become popularized until 1895, when President Cleveland decorated a tree at the White House with electric lights.


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