In 1843, one of the world’s most influential books was published.
Was this book one about power, influence, or government? Actually, it was a book about the Christmas holiday – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Since the mid-1800s, Dickens’ book has not just become a beloved classic about a miser who transforms into a kinder person – it’s become a book that has transformed how many people celebrate the holidays. In fact, many of the traditions people observe during the December holiday can be attributed to the A Christmas Carol story.
A Christmas Carol – 5 Traditions Owed to Charles Dickens’ Classic Tale?
1. Singing Christmas Carols
Did Dickens start the caroling tradition? Not exactly.
By the time Dickens was around, caroling was seen as old-fashioned and stuffy. However, when Dickens portrayed carolers as integral to the holiday spirit, caroling quickly came back into fashion and Christmas songs have never been more popular. Just ask Mariah Carey!
2. Paid Vacation for the Holidays
It may not seem like it at first glance, but A Christmas Carol has a strong message of labor reform. Here’s A Christmas Carol summary of this topic: Dickens drew such a frightening image of what would happen to rich bosses if they didn’t give their employees time off that it wasn’t long before paid holiday leave became the norm.
3. Christmas Trees
Christmas trees have been around forever, right? Not really, at least not in England and the U.S. Prince Albert brought a Christmas tree over from German in 1840. People weren’t thrilled about it until Charles Dickens wrote about the trees in A Christmas Carol. Since he wrote about them being a cozy centerpiece where families could gather, people have been quick to set up trees of their own.
4. Christmas Cards and Gifts
While Dickens was alive, gift- and card-giving were done during the New Year celebration. When he wrote A Christmas Carol, he wrote it as if gift-giving was something that had always been done during Christmastime. Since that point, giving gifts has been a huge part of the season, with spending on gifts exceeding $1 trillion each year since 2017.
5. The Holiday Spirit
Dickens’ story wasn’t just about giving and receiving gifts – it was about the spirit behind the giving. The spirit of community, generosity, and kindness was a message that Dickens wanted to highlight in A Christmas Carol.
Christmas in the Past: A Victorian Tradition That People Might Need to Bring Back
Christmas in the past was a bit different than what most people are used to these days. For instance, one of the interesting traditions people had in the Victorian era was to tell ghost stories during the Christmas holidays. That must be where Dickens got his inspiration for the “Ghost of Christmas Past.”
In A Christmas Carol text, four ghosts visit Scrooge and basically scare him into becoming a better human being. Ghost stories were something that families enjoyed, possibly dating back to the pre-Christian traditions relating to pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.
Not only have ghost stories been told, but children have also been frightened over the years by numerous Christmas monsters, including Krampus. Instead of getting a lump of coal if a person is bad, the person may end up getting a visit from a vicious-looking Christmas monster.
Over the years, the telling of such tales dwindled in popularity, but many people are calling for the tradition to make a comeback.
Starting New Traditions: Reading and Watching A Christmas Carol
Is the A Christmas Carol book simply a nice story that was told over 175 years ago or is it still important for people in the 21st century? Proof that A Christmas Carol is relevant to people today – there have been more than a few A Christmas Carol movies made over the years, including:
- A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey, an animated family film
- The Man Who Invented Christmas, a comedy/biography starring Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens about the inspiration that led to the creation of A Christmas Carol
- A Christmas Carol, a 2019 fantasy miniseries starring Guy Pearce
How does A Christmas Carol relate to today? The story is still relevant because there are still people in this world who can be described as miserly, who have no compassion for others. There is still much room for improvement when it comes to the compassion that’s needed in the world, regardless of a person’s financial situation.
People can read A Christmas Carol PDF version online, but to get the full scope of the story and to be completely entertained, the audiobook is a must.
When families listen to this classic tale, narrated by award-winning narrator Jim Dale, they’ll be able to imagine themselves in the story. They’ll feel how scared Scrooge was by the scary ghosts. They’ll understand why so many people love the Christmas season. And they’ll understand the importance of coming together and showing others the love, kindness, compassion, and generosity that they deserve.
Interested in Other Books That Have Influenced Society?
Books aren’t just fun to read – they can have a profound effect on the people who read them. In fact, some books have even been able to impact society as a whole.
Just as A Christmas Carol was able to influence how people celebrate Christmas, other books have influenced how people think about themselves, sex and relationships, government, and more. Some of the most influential books of all time include:
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Bell Jarby Sylvia Plath
- The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
- Their Eyes Were Watching Godby Zora Neale Hurston
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
- The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ask nearly anyone and you’ll find that there’s been at least one book that’s influenced their outlook on life and the world around them. Reading such impactful books can even help people have more compassion for others, thereby making the world a better place. Do you want to keep the Christmas spirit for as long as possible? Use our Audiobook Discovery Tool to find books about Christmas in every genre. In the yellow search box, enter an author, audiobook, narrator, or topic (like Christmas) and choose an audiobook from the list provided.