A ‘Dickensian’ Christmas?
Every year it seems that certain elements of the British press and religious groups get ever more hot under the collar with regards to the increasing commercialisation and secularisation of Christmas – the Christian festival that marks the supposed birth of Jesus who traditional Christians see as the son of God. Newspaper editors hark back to the popular myth of the ‘Dickensian Christmas’, the perfect Christmas of carols, family and friendship and a good dose of morals. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, stated in 2010 that Jesus was being ‘air-brushed’ out of Christmas and there is even a ‘Campaign Against the Secularisation of Christmas’ established by evangelical Christians. But what is a ‘Dickensian Christmas’? It is rather ironic that Charles Dickens the creator of the ‘modern’ idea of the Christmas festival, did so to broaden the appeal of Christmas, and as a Unitarian, did not see Christmas as the birth of the divine son of God but as a day to explicitly remember ‘ the man Jesus Christ’ who was the ‘Great exemplar’ and ‘proof of loving kindness’. For Dickens and other like-minded individuals Christmas did not have the same religious connotations and overtones as it would for Trinitarian Christians, for example. That Dickens – and others – created the modern notion of a family Christmas is doubly ironic as Unitarians for much of their history had been anti-Christmas!