09 December 2008

Where does the "old fashioned Christmas" come from?

Just for fun and interest... :)

"Charles Dickens has probably had more influence on the way that we celebrate Christmas today than any single individual in human history except one.

"At the beginning of the Victorian period the celebration of Christmas was in decline. The medieval Christmas traditions, which combined the celebration of the birth of Christ with the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia (a pagan
celebration for the Roman god of agriculture), and the Germanic winter festival of Yule, had come under intense scrutiny by the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell. The Industrial Revolution, in full swing in Dickens' time, allowed workers little time for the celebration of Christmas.

"The romantic revival of Christmas traditions that occurred in Victorian times had
other contributors: Prince Albert brought the German custom of decorating the Christmas tree to England, the singing of Christmas carols (which had all but disappeared at the turn of the century) began to thrive again, and the first Christmas card appeared in the 1840s. But it was the Christmas stories of Dickens, particularly his 1843 masterpiece A Christmas Carol, that rekindled the joy of Christmas in Britain and America. Today, after more than 160 years, A Christmas Carol continues to be relevant, sending a message that cuts through the materialistic trappings of the season and gets to the heart and soul of the holidays.

"Dickens' describes the holidays as "a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of
creatures bound on other journeys". This was what Dickens described for the rest of his life as the "Carol Philosophy".

"Dickens' name had become so synonymous with Christmas that on hearing of his death in 1870 a little costermonger's girl in London asked, "Mr. Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?""

- found at Dicken's Christmas page
photo of Dickens lady costume from
this website

online video viewers, don't miss this four part youtube contribution of Richard Williams (and Chuck Jones) 1971 animated version of the Dickens Christmas Classic. It's a spooky one. Part 1 of 4 is linked below.

Oh, and "God make you mighty, gentlefolk". As "God rest ye merry, gentlemen" is prominent in this selection, it is useful to know the old fashioned meaning of the lyrics. Check out "Ace Collins' Songs of Christmas", for one. And enjoy this instrumental version performed by Simeon Wood.
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