There was a point at which the old
approach to Christmas gave way to the
new. When a fairly public display
during the holiday was replaced by a
more personal family approach. It is
this Christmas that we enjoy today.
But it didn’t happen quickly.
In England it took the 400-year rise
in the popularity of Father Christmas
and the efforts of Charles Dickens to
provide the focus for a new type of
Christmas celebration. Not surprising
given that by 1810 London, England,
was the largest city in the world with a
population of 1,000,000+. http://www2.uncp.edu/home/rwb/london_19c.html
In the United States it was a small group of men in the early 1800’s who were friends and/or members of an influential New York group known as the “Knickerbockers”. The group included Washington Irving, John Pintard, William Gilley, Clement Moore, James Kirke Paulding, and Robert Weir. Over a fifty-year period their efforts refocused what Christmas would be. But New York was a much smaller town in 1810, with a population of only 96,373. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_cities_in_the_United_States_by_population_by_decade