Although the phrase "Merry Christmas" had been around for many years – the earliest known written use was in a letter in 1534 – Dickens's use of the term in A Christmas Carol popularised the term among the Victorian public. The exclamation "Bah! Humbug!" entered popular use in the English language as a retort to anything sentimental or overly festive; the name "Scrooge" became used as a designation for a miser, and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary as such in 1982.
The modern observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday. The Oxford Movement of the 1830s and 1840s had produced a resurgence of the traditional rituals and religious observances associated with Christmastide and, with A Christmas Carol, Dickens captured the zeitgeist of the age while he reflected and reinforced his vision of Christmas. He advocated a humanitarian focus of the holiday, which influenced several aspects of Christmas that are still celebrated in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games and a festive generosity of spirit.[n 14] The historian Ronald Hutton writes that Dickens "linked worship and feasting, within a context of social reconciliation".
Ruth Glancy, a professor of English literature, states that the largest impact of A Christmas Carol was the influence felt by individual readers. In the spring of 1844 The Gentleman's Magazine attributed a rise of charitable giving in Britain to Dickens's novella; in 1874, Robert Louis Stevenson, after reading Dickens's Christmas books, vowed to give generously to those in need; and Thomas Carlyle expressed a generous hospitality by hosting two Christmas dinners after reading the book. In 1867 one American businessman was so moved after attending a reading, that he closed his factory on Christmas Day and sent every employee a turkey, while in the early years of the 20th century the Queen of Norway sent gifts to London's crippled children signed "With Tiny Tim's Love". On the novella, the author G. K. Chesterton wrote "The beauty and blessing of the story ... lie in the great furnace of real happiness that glows through Scrooge and everything around him. ... Whether the Christmas visions would or would not convert Scrooge, they convert us."