A Christmas Carol

by: Charles Dickens

The Christmas Spirit

Quotes The Christmas Spirit
I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time… as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time… the only time… when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers….

Scrooge’s nephew Fred explains to Scrooge why he has felt compelled to visit his uncle and wish him a merry Christmas despite Scrooge’s unfriendliness. Fred insists that the spirit of Christmas benefits him even though the spirit does not profit him—a concept foreign to Scrooge. While Fred believes the Christmas spirit comes over him, making him feel charitable, in fact he also embodies and spreads the Christmas spirit through his charity and kindness.

There was nothing very cheerful in the climate or the town and yet there was an air of cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain.

The narrator describes the grim city streets transformed by the Christmas spirit spreading cheer everywhere. On December 25, ordinary activities like shoveling or shopping have an air of festivity. In the story, the narrator explains this change in the atmosphere, metaphorically, as the work of the Ghost of Christmas Present: He sprinkles magic from his torch, making people cheerier, kinder, and more forgiving than usual, and even making food taste better. Essentially, the spirit of Christmas exists anywhere people observe Christmas. Observing the holiday means, by definition, experiencing and spreading the spirit of Christmas.

[E]very man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his companion of some by-gone Christmas Day, with homeward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board… had a kinder word for one another on that day than on any day in the year…

The narrator describes what Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present find when they fly to a ship far out to sea and observe the Christmas spirit at work. While in the story the Ghost brings the sailors the Christmas spirit, he operates merely as a metaphor. In fact, the day itself spreads the Christmas spirit among the sailors. Despite being far away from their families, from any church, and from community celebrations, just knowing the date causes all the sailors to embody, share, and perpetuate the Christmas spirit.