Prior to the 19th century, Christmas as a holiday was not quite the celebration it is today. We can thank many of our modern Christmas customs to the Victorian era of British history. Decorating Christmas trees, purchasing commercially manufactured gifts to wrap and place under said trees, exchanging holiday-themed greeting cards and reviving older traditions such as the singing of carols are all aspects of the season which were popularized by the Victorians.
Not surprisingly, the 19th century also saw a rise in the publication of books about Christmas as writers and publishers alike saw an opportunity to capitalize on the burgeoning Christmas market. The Indiana State Library has several examples of such books in its collection.
One of the earliest Christmas books in the ISL collection is a collection of carols entitled Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London, Richard Beckley, 1833). Some famous carols that made their first appearance in this book include “God rest you merry, gentlemen”, “The first Noel”, “I saw three ships”, and “Hark the herald angels sing.”