It would be disconcerting to many to hear that Charles Dickens’ famous novella, A Christmas Carol, is primarily responsible for Christmas as we know it today. At the time it was published, 1843, Christmas celebrations had waned. When we view or hear an adaptation of the famous story today, we assume we are witnessing an authentic 19th century English Christmas. This was certainly not the case. Dickens did not reiterate Christmas: he recreated it.For example, today it is standard fare for businesses to be closed on Christmas Day, but during this time, this was simply not the case.
The treatment seems cruel to us today, but was ordinary life then. What many people do not notice from the work, is the absence of the baby Jesus’ birth. The only religious element found is when the characters retell their day and mention going to church. Forbes points out that what Dickens was able to do was push the spirit of Christmas.He professed a message that both the religious and secular populations could endorse. Spread goodwill and selflessness and especially remember the less fortunate; this is the basis of the Christmas Spirit that we have come to know. In this concise volume, Forbes presents age-old questions about Christmas and attempts to shed some light on them in a forthright way. He takes us from the pagan roots of Christmas to the significance of what it has become today.
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He uses a snowball to illustrate the eclectic nature of Christmas.As with any tradition, different cultures, societies, and periods in time have all added their own interpretations and opinions to the holiday that we know today. Being a pious man as well as an instructor, Forbes investigates the festivities thoroughly, leaving no stone unturned. He recognizes the religious importance but understands the secular influences as well. The book is informative yet entertaining. A compliment to both the craziness and serenity that is Christmas, Forbes definitely did the holiday justice.