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Dickens Directed Study July 10 2001 The Joy of A Christmas Carol The feelings associated with Christmas and the Christmas season are vast and varied The original celebration was confined to the religious rite commemorating the birth of Christ and the subsequent advent of Christianity For centuries Christmas was singularly a holy day that was observed with more solemnity than joy In 601 AD Pope Gregory instructed his missionary St Austin of Canterbury to make the local winter feast a Christian festival 1 During this period in history the Medieval Church disregarded any conflict between pagan and Christian intentions and thus the mingling of these two occasions created a joyous and merry atmosphere Many traditions that we associate with the Christmas season were originally pagan symbols Holly with three red berries and three green leaves represented the Holy Trinity The Druids venerated mistletoe and early Christians decorated their altars with these white berries Under the Anglo-Norman kings the celebration grew to twelve days Christmas Eve until Epiphany The twelve days of Christmas were celebrated with pageants plays feasts and drinking 1 When Cromwell came into power the celebration of Christmas was gravely suppressed On December 24 1652 this proclamation became law No observance shall be had of the five and twentieth day of December commonly called Christmas 1 With this enforced cessation of celebrating Christmas good fellowship declined and the wealthy gradually failed to remember those who were in need of charitable acts of kindness Needhams History of the Rebellion written in 1661 expressed the general attitude of the citizens of England Gone are these golden days of yore When Christmas was a high day Whose sports we now shall see no more
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