How Has Christmas Changed Over the Years?

Christmas was originally celebrated exclusively at public gatherings, but changed in the early-19th century, when families started celebrating on their own. Christmas traditions, such as putting up a tree, gifts and giving to charity, developed during the early to mid-19th century, with each family choosing their own way to celebrate.

Families had a tradition of exchanging gifts with other families in their community until the 1920s. The 1920s brought the tradition of decorating homes with Christmas lights. Although Christmas lights were discouraged during World War II, the tradition has lived on since that time. During the Great Depression, giving to the poor was common and gifts tended to be simple or homemade.

After World War II, Christmas became a more commercial holiday. A greater number of stores had Christmas decorations and music. Radio and television programs featured Christmas-themed episodes. People sent Christmas cards to friends and family, and some went door to door caroling. Towards the beginning of the 21st century, most young adults viewed Christmas as a cultural holiday, according to a Pew Research Center survey. This contrasted with the majority of the previous generation, who viewed Christmas as a religious holiday. Caroling and sending Christmas cards became less common around this time period, but spending time with family and exchanging gifts remain a tradition with most people.