Chapter

The Invention of the English Christmas

John Storey

in Christmas, Ideology and Popular Culture

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780748628087
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653065 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748628087.003.0002
The Invention of the English Christmas

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This chapter takes the reader back to the 1840s, presenting a critical exploration of ‘The Invention of the English Christmas’ by the Victorian urban middle classes. Christmas was intended as both a celebration of the prosperity made possible by the achievements of the Industrial Revolution, and a recognition of the need to share that prosperity with those for whom industrialisation and urbanisation had not been an unqualified success. Father Christmas/Santa Claus does not feature in the key ideological text of the new invention, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The enormous popularity of the story of Scrooge's social redemption, not just as a novel but in theatre productions and public readings, made this the central text in the invention of Christmas. The promise of Christmas is a middle-class utopia in which exploitation and oppression can exist in harmony with deference and ‘goodwill to all men’.

Keywords: English Christmas; Industrial Revolution; Father Christmas; Santa Claus; Charles Dickens; A Christmas Carol; Scrooge; industrialisation; urbanisation

Chapter.  5423 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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