Christmas Stories: A Christmas Carol

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A Christmas Carol is one of the best known and loved Christmas stories of all time.

Charles Dickens

The story was written by the famous Victorian author, Charles Dickens.

Dickens stated that the idea for A Christmas Carol was conceived and the story written within just a few weeks.

The story is that of Ebenezer Scrooge, who is a hard man, concerned only with money, also known as a miser.  He is visited by the ghost of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley.  That evening the ghost of Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas future visit Scrooge.  The next morning he wakes up a changed man, more concerned with the well being of others, including his law clerk, Bob Cratchit, who has a crippled son, Tiny Tim.

The story was written at a time when Christmas traditions were being examined and new traditions, such as the Christmas tree, were being introduced.

Wikipedia explains, “Dickens had written three Christmas stories prior to the novella, and was inspired to write the story following a visit to the Field Lane Ragged school, one of several establishments for London’s half-starved, illiterate street children. The treatment of the poor and the ability of a self-interested man redeeming himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are the key themes of the story.”

The story was first published on December 19, 1844.  Dickens would write four additional Christmas stories over the years, but will always be best remembered for A Christmas Carol.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica: “His great attachment to Christmas (in his family life as well as his writings) is indeed significant and has contributed to his popularity. ‘Dickens dead?’ exclaimed a London girl in 1870. ‘Then will Father Christmas die too?’— a tribute both to his association with Christmas and to the mythological status of the man as well as of his work.”

The reviews of A Christmas Carol are defined as “uniformly kind.”

“Dickens’ love for Christmas was probably influenced in part by his affection for children, and in A Christmas Carol, he tenderly wrote, “For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”

Dickens began public readings of his famous story in1849 and undertook 127 performances over the years.  He toured both the UK and US with his readings.

Charles Dickens died on June 9, 1870, in Kent, England.   Dickens’ tombstone in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey, London, succinctly summarizes his life: “He was a sympathizer to the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England’s greatest writers is lost to the world.”

Dickens use of the phrase “Merry Christmas” popularized a phrase that had been around since as early as 1534.

In 1901, the story was produced for British film.  Sadly the film is now lost, but it was one of the first of Dickens works adapted for film.  In 1923, BBC Radio adapted the story for their listeners.

A Christmas Carol has never been out of print since it’s first publication.  The story has been adapted numerous times for stage and screen, as well as an opera, ballet, mime production and other media.  The story has even been translated into other languages.

Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, popularized the way people viewed Christmas and how it is celebrated, which evolved into what we know today.  The film The Man Who Invented Christmas explores the birth of A Christmas Carol.  The Man Who Invented Christmas is in theaters now.