Scrooge is 175

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Charles Dickens birthplace in Portsmouth

Exactly one month from today, A Christmas Carol – that Charles Dickens masterpiece will be 175 years old.

Unlike many books, this one has had a significant impact on Christmas traditions and on the language as a whole.

Before Dickens, the word “scrooge” did not exist. Find me anyone today who is unaware of what a scrooge is? It has entered the language in such a way that it seems to have always been with us. Disney appropriated the name for one of his cartoon characters, Scrooge MacDuck safe in the knowledge that any reader or watcher would immediately know the character of this duck.

But A Christmas Carol gave us more than just a dictionary word. The idea that Christmas should be a holiday, a time for family and a time for goodwill probably came from the pen of Dickens as did other characters like Bob Cratchit who was more optimistic than he might have been given huis employer. Tiny Tim, Bob’s weakly son is a sympathetic character that the phrase “a Little Tim type character” is still occasionally heard. Mention the word “Dickensian” what often first comes to mind is a glowing, comforting and snowy Christmas scene where everything turns out well. This image doesn’t come from any of Dickens’s other books. It comes from A Christmas Carol.

The book has been made into any number of films some close to the book and some using the theme as a basis for wider flights of fancy such as when the muppets met the scrooge of Michael Caine.

At the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth they will be celebrating the 175th anniversary with a one-day special opening on 19 December. Normally closed through the winter months, the museum will be giving out a limited number of free copies of the book on a first come, first served basis.

Over in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, visitors will enter a bygone era of snowy Dickensian streets at the Dickens Christmas Festival which runs from November 30th until December 2nd. There will be the Hampshire Makers market offering a celebration of local handmade talent, Dickensian street performers, a traditional green Father Christmas and more.

To top off you annual dose of Dickens you could pop over to the Guildhall in the city where, in the front of it, there will be a huge ice-skating rink open until January 6th. What could be Dickensian than family ice-skating?

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