So why do people celebrate Christmas with presents? The Bible presents Christ coming to earth as God’s gift to humanity: ‘he will save his people from their sins’(Matthew 1:21). The Bible consistently stresses the need to share the love of God with others, irrespective of race or religion, to care for the sick, the needy and ‘to love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31). Christmas is an ideal opportunity to do that.
Dickens saw the hypocrisy in a culture that celebrated Christmas but which largely ignored the inconvenient poor and needy. His social satires remind the reader with biting clarity of the need to live out the values of love, charity and peace with one’s neighbour every day.
Christmas was a shared cultural reference point in Victorian England so it was an effective symbol for Dickens to use but his message, like that of the biblical text, does not restrict itself to one day.
If you’d like to read ‘A Christmas Carol’ it’s available free courtesy of the excellent Gutenberg project, along with this image.