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It's hard to imagine now, but at the beginning of the 19th century Christmas was hardly celebrated.

Many businesses did not even consider it a holiday.

In 1843 Henry Cole commissioned an artist to design a card for Christmas.

The illustration showed a group of people around a dinner table and a Christmas message.

In 1881 gave strict directions to the lady of the house: "To bring about a general feeling of enjoyment, much depends on the surroundings…

It is worth while to bestow some little trouble on the decoration of the rooms".

Inspired by a trip to Paris where he saw bon bons – sugared almonds wrapped in twists of paper – he came up with the idea of the Christmas cracker: a simple package filled with sweets that snapped when pulled apart.

However, during the 19th century there was a revolution in the composition of this festive dish.

Mixes without meat began to gain popularity within some of the higher echelons of society and became the mince pies we know today.

At one shilling each, these were pricey for ordinary Victorians and so were not immediately accessible.

However the sentiment caught on and many children - Queen Victoria's included – were encouraged to make their own Christmas cards.

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