Charles Dickens and Christmas

November 24, 2017 at 8:24 pm (Commentary, Culture, History, Literature, Personal essays) (, , , )

Charles Dickens and Christmas

I was just reading a review of the released movie Charles Dickens: The Man Who Invented Christmas.

It looks like it will be quite a good film.

Although I think a more appropriate title would be Charles Dickens: The Man Who Re-Invented Christmas.

Because Christmas 🎄 was actually an important holiday in England and celebrated widely until the advent of Puritanism and Oliver Cromwell in the 17th Century.

The monarchy was restored to Britain in 1660 and although Stuart monarchs may have celebrated Christmas, it was a day no longer marked with much commemoration among the general populace.

Hanoverian England and the advent of the Industrial Revolution saw a further decline in the celebration of Christmas.

The idea of Christmas as a special day to celebrate with family and friends the birth of Christ appeared to be on the verge of dying out in England.

There were some inklings of a possible restoration of Christmas on the landscape.

Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha’s marriage to Queen Victoria in 1840 had led the Prince to bring German Lutheran Christmas customs with him to Buckingham Palace such as the idea of candles, lights and decorated Christmas 🎄 trees.

The High Church Anglo-Catholic priest and hymn writer John Mason Neale was also writing Christmas carols during this time period- Good Christian Men Rejoice, Good King Wenceslas and O Come O Come Emmanuel.

But it was a writer heavily in debt who self-published the book A Christmas Carol in 1843 who turned things around.

Mr. Charles Dickens.

His collection of characters in that work – Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim- have become immortal in themselves.

The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future as well as the ghost of Jacob Marley are probably the most famous ghosts in all English literature.

Dickens’ work would greatly influence the modern Western celebration of Christmas such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, parties, dancing, games and a festive generosity of spirit.

All things now associated with Christmas.

In that sense, Dickens did invent Christmas.

But the idea of family Christmas celebrations and Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption would not have been possible without the Birth of a certain Babe in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.

Puritan sourpusses such as Oliver Cromwell might have wanted to do away with celebrating Christmas.

The Industrial Revolution with its denial of the essential dignity and self-worth of the individual human person might try to kill the concept of humanity being created in God’s image.

Machines might be seen as capable of replacing a human work force.

And technology might be seen as capable of replacing God.

But for Dickens, the realm of the Spirit was very much alive.

It has been said that “the (Holy) Spirit moveth us in sundry times and places”.

In London in 1843, Charles Dickens felt moved in spirit.

And gave us his masterpiece novella A Christmas Carol.

The celebration of Christ’s birth in the world was not to be denied to humanity.

Today Christmas has turned into an orgy of shopping and commercialization.

The focus has become “What am I getting for Christmas?”.

It is the hidden gift under wrapping that has become the focus of most attention on Christmas morn rather than the Godhead become openly manifest in human flesh.

It looks like the world could use another Charles Dickens to come and remind us what Christmas is truly all about.

-A personal essay
written by Christopher
Friday November 24th
2017.

13 Comments

  1. Orvillewrong said,

    Very interesting and informative!

  2. doesitevenmatter3 said,

    Wowza! I didn’t know this! Interesting!
    I’ll see if I can find the movie to watch!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    • Dracul Van Helsing said,

      I think you’ll love the movie, Carolyn.

      The best version in my opinion is the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol where Alastair Sim plays Scrooge.

    • Dracul Van Helsing said,

      I just realized you may be talking about the current film Charles Dickens: The Man Who Invented Christmas which of course is currently in theatres.

      I thought you might be talking about a movie version of A Christmas Carol itself of which there are so many versions.

      But the 1951 version with Alastair Sim is the true classic in my opinion.

  3. Egyptian Adventures.wordpress.com said,

    Fantastic Christopher.

  4. Egyptian Adventures.wordpress.com said,

  5. rahjomuelvin said,

    I agree. The true meaning of Christmas is obliterated with the shopping and all and the idea of “What am I getting at Christmas?”… the presents become more important the God’s presence.
    Great post.

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