Christmas is a time of traditions, especially Christmas stories.
The place to start is with the foundation of Christmas, the Christmas story in the Bible. I prefer the King James translation, and I think children can follow the majesty of the words. There are, however, many beautiful children’s books. There are many activities children can do to reinforce the story.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a much-loved favourite and has been simplified and adapted for stage and screen many times. I must admit that my favourite version is the Muppet one of 1992 with Michael Caine as Scrooge. Dickens published the novella in 1843 at a time when Christmas trees were becoming popular in England, having been introduced from Germany by Prince Albert. Carol singing, such as that by Scrooge’s nephew, was becoming popular and cheaper printing gave rise to the popularity of card sending. Dickens presented an idealistic picture of how Christmas could be spent. The novella was also propaganda for Dickens views on the poverty and class divide of the England of the time.
There are also some beautifully illustrated versions of The Night Before Christmas written by Clement Clarke Moore for his children. This was published in New York in 1823, well before A Christmas Carol. It popularized the secular aspect of Christmas with the focus on gifts for children and is a much-loved poem to read to children on Christmas Eve.
This Christmas Eve I intend to show my ballet dancing granddaughters one of the versions of The Nutcracker on my iPad. Apparently, a number of ballet companies in the US derive most of their income from the Christmas season of this lovely ballet. While the story is not directly a Christmas story it has come to be associated with Christmas. It was first performed in 1892.
My father had a Christmas tradition, which was odd, but is always associated with post-Christmas lunch. Now, I have to point out my father was a clergyman, and probably had conducted three services by lunch time, so our household was well aware of the Christmas message. And he never drank. But, after Christmas dinner he would always recite the first verse to the AB Patterson poem, Johnson’s Antidote “Down along the Snakebite River, where the overlanders camp …” Then he would look at the empty table, the floor littered with wrapping and, with a beam would say, “There’s nothing so over as Christmas.”
A Christmas Carol is available from Dymocks in many, many versions – from simple Penguin paperback to lavish hardcover. Click the covers below to learn more!
All of Vivienne’s favourite Christmas stories are available (in many wonderful formats) via the store link below.
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