A Christmas Carol Historical Context

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Victorian Christmas

At the time when Dickens was writing, the Christmas tradition was not nearly as important as it is today. Celebrating Christmas started in the fourth century, incorporating many of the symbols of pagan holidays such as the Roman Saturnalia and the Saxon Yule holiday, such as holly and wreaths. The date of December 25th was borrowed from pagan cultures—it was the date of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

For centuries Christmas grew in importance slowly, but treating it as a celebration was looked upon suspiciously because of its pagan origins and because it made a festive celebration out of one of the most solemn days on the Christian calendar, the birth of Jesus. During the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century that sought to turn the church away from worldly and materialistic concerns, celebrating Christmas was actually outlawed for a short...

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This section contains 405 words
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Buy the A Christmas Carol Study Guide
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A Christmas Carol from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.