For decades the San Francisco Bay Area has enjoyed a home-grown old-fashioned holiday faire that continues to endure amid all the distractions of our high-tech digital age.
If you are planning on attending the annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair beginning November 23rd, then you might want to make preparations by visiting your local book shop or library.
Almost all bookshops and libraries have most of Dickens’ beloved novels, including the holiday story on which the long-running holiday fair is based: “A Christmas Carol.”
Often described as “a living Victorian Christmas card,” the Dickens Fair prides itself on providing a unique experience of “live-immersion theatre.” Players-cast, crew and even some vendors all work to make one feel as if they have stepped back in time to 19th Century London – the London, England of Dickens’ time. Despite the distractions of the digital age with gadgets, the experience of live-immersion theatre is like no other. In many ways, like most live theatre it is a live-action, living work of dramatic art.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. And, while historians note the long-reigning monarch was rather reserved in dealing with others, she did in her own way, promote the celebration of Christmas.
It was also during her reign that some of the post-profound literary works were produced. Dickens was one among many during the era that provided readers with a prolific array of novels, short stories and essays. Some of which, like “A Christmas Carol,” gave particular “arch-types” of human characters and cultural phrases and references that are still in use today.
Concepts of characters like the miserly Scrooge, who was so stingy with his money that he would not let his devoted employee Bob Cratchit, have more coal for the furnace to warm the office.
Elements of “A Christmas Carol” are found in just about every one of Dickens’ novels. Dickens like many of his contemporaries was able to capture the impact the Industrial Revolution had upon the common people and even the world. Much of it is what made Great Britain powerful and Queen Victoria the center of that power during her reign.
She became the epitome of what polite, dignified and correct society should be. And, whether people out West here in California liked it or not, that influence made an impression.
And for the season of Christmas, the holiday tree was one of them. Because of her love for husband Prince Albert, who was German, the use of a holiday tree during Christmas was something Queen Victoria promoted. The Christmas tree can be traced to Germany and Protestant religious reformer Martin Luther to the 16th Century.
German immigrants brought this custom of a holiday tree with them as they settled in America.
But it was Queen Victoria and in a way Charles Dickens through his famous story, that helped make the celebration of Christmas what it is today. The spirit of generosity, the concern for the less fortunate and the ability to foster family and community bonds is what makes “A Christmas Carol” the beloved holiday story it is.
Your local book store and or public library has plenty of copies of the beloved novel for those who would like to brush up and prepare for the annual Christmas Fair.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair begins Nov. 23 and continues for five consecutive weekends, concluding on Dec. 22. For more details visit the web site.