What we perceive to be Christmas tradition in the UK owes much to Dickens.
The following, including the image, is taken from Dr Jim Eckman’s article, ‘Charles Dickens and the Message of Christmas’, which can be read in full here.
For over 150 years Charles Dickens’ story of the miserly, miserable Ebenezer Scrooge and his three ghosts has been a regular Christmas tradition throughout Western Civilization. Indeed, even Hollywood has fueled this tradition by producing more than 15 feature productions of “A Christmas Carol.” Why is this story so powerful, so gripping and such a staple of the Holiday season? The answer lies in understanding the author, Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens is arguably the most influential novelist in the English language. It was his Christmas stories and his struggle with Christianity that dominated much of his life and permeated his writings.
The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future haunt Scrooge throughout Christmas Eve night, as they expose all of his sins and shortcomings. He comes to terms with his greed and selfishness as “the squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous” miser. In short, Scrooge is regenerated, born again, into a generous, compassionate, loving man who rescues Tiny Tim from death, and becomes one “who knew how to keep Christmas well.”
Christmas day becomes a reassuring antidote to the factory jobs and crowded cities of Victorian England. Today, we are far removed from Victorian England. But perhaps that is why we love the story so. We can identify with Scrooge in his miserliness, yet also long for his redemption. The message of Christmas is that God understands our miserly, selfish human condition and provides our redemption through His son, Jesus. The message of Christmas remains that the babe in the manger on Christmas morning was God’s “unspeakable gift” to the human race.
Dr Jim Eckman
The full article may be read here online.