Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dickens of a Christmas

I need to repost this from last year.

People say Dickens invented Christmas: he didn’t – though he aided its revival. Britain’s newly urban population didn’t have much energy or opportunity to celebrate it, thanks to the extremely un-festive combination of long hours of unregulated industrial toil and displacement from the rural communities they’d grown up in. Dickens was the most successful of numerous cultured Victorians keen to revive the season, both out of nostalgia for the (more fondly than accurately) remembered country Christmases of yore and a sense of social conscience.
Many of our ideas about what makes a merry Christmas (including the phrase itself) were his first. Dickens placed charity at the heart of the season and made us hope for snow. In his imagination Christmas was always white, which his biographer Peter Ackroyd puts down to the eight unusually cold, happy winters of his boyhood, before his father, John, ended up in debtor’s prison.
Hence all the Victorian-like appearances of Christmas? I enjoy many Christmas decorations, but how much do we let Dickens influence our celebration of Christmas in comparison to the humble, sacrificial and loving act of God incarnate?
You can read the rest here. HT: Lauren Laverne