Sunday, January 16, 2011


Well, it seems to have been snowing for a while.  It's funny how images of snow, sleigh rides, and getting outside into the crisp air brings a smile to our faces during Christmas.  But when the holiday season is over we get sick of it pretty fast.  In about a month or so it will start to warm up again and those below freezing temperatures will be a long forgotten memory.

Snow, ice and Christmas often go together, although why it should is a bit strange! There is no snow or ice in the Christmas story told in the Bible. However, snow does fall in Israel. Bethlehem and Jerusalem are on a range of hills that go north to south between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan valley. The top of these hills are about 1600 ft (500 m) high. The hills often have very cold weather from November to April and snow can often fall. So, although the Bible story may not have snow in it, Jesus may well have seen some snow in his life!

The reason that we think of snow and ice at Christmas is portably down to the Victorians! Although Christmas was taken over from the Pagan winter solstice festivals in Europe, it was the Victorians who gave us our 'traditional' Christmas in Europe and the U.S.A. At the start of the Victorian era, (1837) Britain was in a mini ice age that was from about 1550 to 1850. During this time, in London, a winter fair was held on the frozen River Thames!

One of the main reasons that the Victorians put Snow and Christmas together was the book 'A Christmas Carol' written in 1843 by Charles Dickens.

It tells the story of a mean old business man called Ebenezer Scrooge who hates Christmas. During the night of Christmas Eve, he is visited by three ghosts, one of Christmas Past, one of Christmas Present and one of Christmas yet to come. They show him how mean he really is. He realises that making friends is more important than making money. When he wakes up on Christmas Day, he is a changed man and give lots of money and presents away. (If you don't know the story, I recommend that you read the book or see a film of the story! A very famous film of it was made in 1951 [4 years after Britain had some of its heaviest snow of the 1900's], but my favourite version is the Muppet's Christmas Carol!!!)

When Charles Dickens was a child, Britain had very heavy snow falls around Christmas, so when he wrote 'A Christmas Carol' he put lots of snow and ice in it! He also put snow at Christmas in some of his other books like 'The Pickwick Papers'. Charles Dickens' books were very popular (and still are!) so when the Victorians read the books, they thought of snow and Christmas together!

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