Did you know that Christmas trees only became popular in this country in Victorian times? In 1848 the Illustrated London News published a picture of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children enjoying their Christmas celebrations around a tree, and the idea caught on.
Christmas trees were originally popular in Germany, but their use only spread to other countries in the 19th century when they became popular with the nobility and spread via the royal families of Europe. In the UK there had been a tradition of decorating homes with evergreen branches, but the idea of an entire fir tree in the house was new. Victoria, with her German relatives, had grown up used to the idea of a fir tree at Christmas, and this was further encouraged by Albert after their marriage. The idea gained popularity, and the picture in the Illustrated London News gave a massive boost to the popularity of Christmas trees. Soon, advertisements for them began to appear in newspapers. Nowadays, the British Christmas Tree Growers Association grows approximately 8 million trees for sale each year.
The Illustrated London News is part of the Special Collections periodicals collection.
Happy Christmas from Special Collections! You can check when we are open after Christmas on our Special Collections guide.