A Christmas Carol teaches ‘gift of giving’

Clockwise from top left: Disney’s 2009 version, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Bill Murray in Scrooged, Scrooge McDuck.

What can we learn from this 170-year-old story? As Christmas fast approaches, productions of Dickens’s classic tale about Ebenezer Scrooge are being staged up and down the country.

What’s happening

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is the nation’s favourite story for the festive season. The tale is being told on stages up and down the country, including one at London’s Chickenshed Theatre that updates the action to the 1930s. Indeed, Ebenezer Scrooge has appeared in more than 20 films since 1901.

Find out more

First published in 1843, the book has never been out of print. In fact, it changed the way people celebrated Christmas. Instead of thinking about religion and church, they began to see it as a time of generosity and family. It even made “Merry Christmas!” a common festive saying.

A Christmas Carol tells the story of a greedy and selfish miser who is visited in turn by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. They show him his life and moments from the past that he regrets, the happiness his employees enjoy despite their poverty, and finally how poorly he will be remembered when he is dead.

Shocked by what he has seen, Scrooge repents and learns to love Christmas. He joins the celebrations and does his best to help the poor.

Why is it so popular?

Some say…

A Christmas Carol is still popular because it shows that people can change. Self-help books and tales of redemption are popular in the 21st century. This is especially true at Christmastime when we are thinking about the year that has passed and the one that is ahead. Charles Dickens’s story remains up to date in modern times.

Others think…

The story of Scrooge is still told today because it warns us not to be greedy. This is particularly important now, when the government says a third of (or 19 million) British people have lived in poverty since 2010. Yet many people only think of Christmas as a time for expensive presents. We should all remember Dickens’s message more often.

You Decide

  1. Why do people love A Christmas Carol?


  1. Imagine you are making a modern-day version of A Christmas Carol. Where will you set it? And who will be Scrooge?

Some People Say...

“Human nature is selfish.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Makes it more modern.
Out of print
A book which is no longer being printed because not enough people want to buy it.
Someone who hoards (stores or hides away) wealth and gets no happiness from spending money.
Not having enough money.
To feel sorry for past behaviour, and decide to change.
To be forgiven and make up for past behaviour.

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