A Christmas Carol

Legacy

While the phrase "Merry Christmas" was popularised following the appearance of the story,[62] and the name "Scrooge" and exclamation "Bah! Humbug!" have entered the English language,[63] Ruth Glancy argues the book's singular achievement is the powerful influence it has exerted upon its readers. In the spring of 1844, The Gentleman's Magazine attributed a sudden burst of charitable giving in Britain to Dickens' novella; in 1874, Robert Louis Stevenson waxed enthusiastic after reading Dickens' Christmas books and vowed to give generously; and Thomas Carlyle expressed a generous hospitality by staging two Christmas dinners after reading the book.[64] In America, a Mr. Fairbanks attended a reading on Christmas Eve in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1867, and was so moved he closed his factory on Christmas Day and sent every employee a turkey.[35] In the early years of the 20th century, the Queen of Norway sent gifts to London's crippled children signed "With Tiny Tim's Love"; Squire Bancroft raised £20,000 for the poor by reading the tale aloud publicly; and Captain Corbett-Smith read the tale to the troops in the trenches of World War I.[65]

According to historian Ronald Hutton, the current state of observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday spearheaded by A Christmas Carol. Hutton writes that Dickens "linked worship and feasting, within a context of social reconciliation".[66] In advocating a humanitarian focus of the holiday,[8] Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today in Western culture, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games and a festive generosity of spirit.[67] With the appearance of the Oxford Movement and the growth of Anglo-Catholicism, a revival in the traditional rituals and religious observances associated with Christmastide also occurred.[68]

This simple morality tale with its pathos and theme of redemption significantly redefined the "spirit" and importance of Christmas, since, as Margaret Oliphant recalled, it "moved us all those days ago as if it had been a new gospel."[69] The tale helped resurrect a form of seasonal merriment that had been suppressed by the Puritan quelling of Yuletide pageantry in 17th-century England.[70]


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