Sunday, December 21, 2014

We expect a white Christmas because of Dickens' boyhood

I first posted this back in 2008. Since then there have been a couple more white Christmases, but it seems worth repeating...

Why is snow so firmly established in our ideal Christmas when there have been only seven white Christmases since 1900?

It is all down to Charles Dickens.

The Daily Telegraph quotes a Canadian professor as saying:
"The whole of A Christmas Carol is really an invocation of his childhood Christmases with his family before his father fell into debt and was sent to the debtors' prison. 
"A Christmas Carol made Christmas respectable for the English bourgeoisie, who had come to regard it as somewhat antiquated."
And what were those early Christmases like for Dickens?

The Telegraph says:
A decade of unusually cold weather during his childhood may have influenced his description of Britons "scraping the snow from the pavements in front of their dwellings, and from the tops of their houses" on Christmas morning despite the statistical probability of a grey winter day like any other. 
Six of Dickens's first nine Christmases were white, including one in the winter of 1813-14 during which the ice on the River Thames was thick enough to bear the weight of an elephant. 
Whether they tested this with a real elephant is not disclosed.

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