Hamblin & Peterson: Charles Dickens and the invention of Christmas

Published: Sunday, Dec. 15 2013 9:21 a.m. MST

One of the author’s sons later recalled that, for Dickens, Christmas was “a great time, a really jovial time, and my father was always at his best, a splendid host, bright and jolly as a boy and throwing his heart and soul into everything that was going on. ... And then the dance! There was no stopping him!”

It’s very largely thanks to Charles Dickens and his England that, despite the historical origins of Christmas — probably in the spring and certainly in a Mediterranean climate — modern Americans tend to celebrate Jesus Christ’s Nativity as an idealized early Victorian mid-winter family feast. But there’s much good in the holiday customs he helped to preserve and spread, because, as Dickens himself wrote of the repentant Ebenezer Scrooge, “he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”

Daniel Peterson founded BYU's Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, chairs The Interpreter Foundation and blogs on Patheos. Among other things, William Hamblin co-authored “Solomon's Temple: Myth and History.” They do not represent BYU.

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