It was on this day in 1843 that Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, whom Dickens described as "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner. Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire." In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge learns the Christmas spirit of generosity from three ghosts who show him his past, his present, and his future.
Dickens' previous novel, Martin Chuzzlewit (1842), was a flop, and he was strapped for cash. Martin Chuzzlewit was satirical and pessimistic, and Dickens thought he might be more successful if he wrote a heartwarming tale with a holiday theme. He started writing in late October and worked hard to get it done by Christmas.
At the time of the book's publication, the celebration of Christmas was somewhat controversial. Puritans in England and America argued that Christmas was a holiday left over from the days when pagans celebrated the winter solstice. Many Christians felt that the extravagance of Christmas was an insult to Christ. But A Christmas Carol was a huge best-seller in both England and the United States, and it set the tone for Christmas as we know it today: a season of generosity, feasting, and merriment.