Ethos Education

The Man Who Invented Christmas

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Assembly Objective:

  • What are we celebrating at Christmas? This assembly introduces students to the idea of goodwill to others at Christmas, and connects some contemporary Christmas customs with their biblical roots. By looking at Christmas through the prism of Victorian Britain, students are encouraged to consider a biblical perspective on poverty and the birth of Jesus.

Film:

  • The Man Who Invented Christmas (Parallel Films, 2017, cert PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Individual Liberty affirms each person’s right to self-determination, but the values of Democracy, Respect and Tolerance call us to live as part of a community. This assembly provokes pupils to consider how the Christian festival of Christmas encourages good relationships with one another.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Who Invented Christmas? (Quiz)

Download the True False Quiz PowerPoint for this activity. The students are presented with a set of True or False statements about Christmas traditions. Answers are below.

1. Santa Claus was invented by the Coca Cola corporation. False – Santa Claus is based on the 4th Century bishop of Myra, Saint Nicholas, but is also linked to other mythological figures. Coca Cola used a picture of a jolly Santa Claus in a red suit to advertise their drink in the 1930s.

2. Mary and Joseph were from Bethlehem. False – the Bible says that Mary and Joseph came from Nazareth, another town in Israel. They had to travel to Bethlehem to take part in a census of all the citizens of the Roman Empire.

3. There were three wise men who brought gold, silver and bronze. False – the Bible doesn’t specify how many wise men visited Jesus, but it does say that they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

4. The first people to hear about Jesus’ birth (other than Mary and Joseph!) were some shepherds. True – this is unexpected because shepherds were not thought to be important in their society at the time.

5. In the United States, you’re not meant to put your Christmas decorations up until after the John Lewis advert has been released. False – there is no definite rule about when is the right time to put up your decorations, but in some parts of America, people wait until the day after Thanksgiving to decorate.

6. Christmas technically isn’t over until 6th of January. True – in the Christian tradition, the feast of Christmas finishes on 6th of January (Epiphany or Twelfth Night), the day that marks the visit of the wise men to the baby Jesus.

7. Jesus was born on the 25th of December. False – we don’t know exactly when Jesus’ birthday is, but it’s most likely that the actual date is around harvest time (September or October when the shepherds would have been in the fields). 25th December was chosen later as the day to celebrate his birth, and is connected to existing festivals of light.

8. Christmas trees are mentioned in the Bible. False – Christmas trees were introduced to the UK by Queen Charlotte in around 1800. They became popular in the 1840s when Prince Albert married Queen Victoria.

9. In ‘A Christmas Carol’, the main character, a man called Ebenezer Scrooge, is visited by three ghosts – the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. False – Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and by three spirits – Past, Present and Yet To Come.

10. Dutch people wish each other ‘Nice Christmas’. True – one of the Dutch phrases for ‘Happy Christmas’ (Prettig Kerstfeest) actually translates as ‘Nice Christmas’.


FILM CLIP

The Man Who Invented Christmas (Parallel Films, 2017, cert PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.

  • Start time: 00:17:17 (beginning of chapter 3)
  • End time: 00:22:56
  • Clip length: 5 minutes 39 seconds
  • The clip begins with Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) leaving the theatre. He encounters a man (Bill Paterson) who tells him that he objects to his books because they are about pickpockets, street walkers and charity boys and ‘those people’ don’t belong in books. He tells Dickens that, as a self-made man, he has never asked for help from anyone that he wasn’t willing to pay for. He suggests that the poor would be better off in workhouses and, when challenged by Dickens that most people would rather die than be put there, he says they’d better do it and reduce the surplus population. Dickens then encounters a beggar who tries to sell him his children as chimney sweeps. Chasing after them, he stumbles upon a graveyard where a funeral is taking place with only one mourner. He overhears the gravediggers discussing the fact that the deceased was so mean that the only person to mourn him was his business partner. The business partner sees Dickens, and mutters the word ‘humbug’. This gives Dickens an idea, and he runs home to begin writing a story about Christmas. The next scene shows him explaining his idea, a story that takes place on Christmas Eve, to his publishers. When they object that nobody celebrates Christmas anymore and that there’s not much of a market for Christmas books, he responds by saying that ‘Christmas is, or ought to be, the one time of the year when men or women open their shut-up hearts and think of the people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures altogether’. They still refuse, and Dickens storms out, thanking them for their opinion.

TALK

Download The Man Who Invented Christmas PowerPoint for use with this talk.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • What do you like most about Christmas? Perhaps it’s the presents, the food, spending time with your family or just the fact that you have a holiday from school. Perhaps it’s the smell of a real Christmas tree, the taste of brussel sprouts or the sound of Christmas carols. Christmas is full of traditions, and everyone probably has their own favourite thing that they like to do every year.
    • But for some people, Christmas is a difficult time of the year. Some people find it difficult because their families are not happy or safe. Some people don’t have enough money to buy presents or even enough food for their families. Some people find Christmas hard because they have lost family members or friends during the past year and Christmas memories make them feel sad. I’m sure we could think of lots of other people that we know, or who we hear about in the news, for whom Christmas is a difficult time.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • One of the most famous stories told about Christmas was written by Charles Dickens. If you haven’t read A Christmas Carol, you’ve probably seen a version of it on TV, maybe even The Muppets version.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • It’s a story about a man called Ebenezer Scrooge who is mean-spirited and whose favourite phrase is ‘Bah, humbug!’. More than anything, Scrooge hates Christmas. One Christmas Eve, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his dead business partner who tells him he will be visited by three spirits who will show him his past, his present, and his future. The story is obviously an imaginary one, but there are lots of traditions that we now celebrate because Dickens wrote about them, and much of the world he described was based on real life as he observed it.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • We’re going to watch a clip from the film The Man Who Invented Christmas which tells the story of how Charles Dickens might have come up with the story. As you’re watching, see if you can spot any of the ideas that appear in the story.
    • Play the clip from The Man Who Invented Christmas (Parallel Films, 2017, cert PG).
    • Start time: 00:17:17 (beginning of chapter 3)
    • End time: 00:22:56
    • Clip length: 5 minutes 39 seconds
    • The clip begins with Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) leaving the theatre. He encounters a man (Bill Paterson) who tells him that he objects to his books because they are about pickpockets, street walkers and charity boys and ‘those people’ don’t belong in books. He tells Dickens that, as a self-made man, he has never asked for help from anyone that he wasn’t willing to pay for. He suggests that the poor would be better off in workhouses and, when challenged by Dickens that most people would rather die than be put there, he says they’d better do it and reduce the surplus population. Dickens then encounters a beggar who tries to sell him his children as chimney sweeps. Chasing after them, he stumbles upon a graveyard where a funeral is taking place with only one mourner. He overhears the gravediggers discussing the fact that the deceased was so mean that the only person to mourn him was his business partner. The business partner sees Dickens, and mutters the word ‘humbug’. This gives Dickens an idea, and he runs home to begin writing a story about Christmas. The next scene shows him explaining his idea, a story that takes place on Christmas Eve, to his publishers. When they object that nobody celebrates Christmas anymore and that there’s not much of a market for Christmas books, he responds by saying that ‘Christmas is, or ought to be, the one time of the year when men or women open their shut-up hearts and think of the people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures altogether’. They still refuse, and Dickens storms out, thanking them for their opinion.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • It’s tempting at Christmas to concentrate on all the lovely things that we enjoy and forget about other people. In fact, we can become quite selfish if we don’t watch out. In the clip that we watched, Charles Dickens said something interesting. I wonder if you noticed it.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • ‘Christmas is, or ought to be, the one time of the year when men or women open their shut-up hearts and think of the people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures altogether’.
    • Dickens understood that Christmas is about celebrating something that is not at all selfish.
    • Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth, and Jesus’ birth is about God choosing to come to earth in order to show us that he loves us. By choosing to be born as a human being, in a stable, to a poor family, God was choosing to do something completely unselfish.
    • Here’s how another writer described what Jesus did when he was born:
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Philippians 2:5-11
    • ‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’
    • The Bible tells us that Jesus was God, but he chose to come and live on earth and even to die on a cross so that we would understand how much God loves us. Christmas is a celebration of God’s love that was shown in the gift he gave us – his own Son. That’s worth celebrating, not by being selfish, but by sharing what we have and looking out for other people.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • No matter what we believe about God, Christmas is a time to enjoy the presents, the food, the holiday, but it is also a time of year when we can choose to follow Charles Dickens’ advice and think about other people.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • There are lots of ways you can think of others at Christmas. Perhaps you could go and help with a charity for homeless people or donate some clothes or gifts to help refugees. Perhaps you could make sure that you include people that get left out when you’re making plans to have fun during the holidays. Perhaps you could decide to be really patient with your brother or sister this year, or choose not to grumble when you have to spend time with your family.
    • Choosing not to be selfish doesn’t have to involve big gestures, sometimes it’s just about being kind and thinking of other people as well as yourself. The man in the film clip who spoke to Charles Dickens at the theatre chose not to think about others because he believed he never needed help, but everyone needs help at some point in life.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • This Christmas, why don’t you choose to help someone else?

Headings and Bullets

Download The Man Who Invented Christmas PowerPoint for use with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • What do you like most about Christmas?
    • Presents.
    • Food.
    • Time with family.
    • Holiday from school.
    • Smells, tastes and sounds.
    • Christmas is full of traditions.
    • Christmas can be difficult for some people.
    • Because their families are not happy or safe.
    • Because they don’t have enough money to buy presents or enough food.
    • Because they have lost family members or friends during the past year.
    • Because Christmas memories make them feel sad.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • One of the most famous stories told about Christmas was written by Charles Dickens.
    • A Christmas Carol.
    • TV and film versions.
    • Maybe you’ve seen The Muppets version?
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • A Christmas Carol.
    • A story about a man called Ebenezer Scrooge.
    • Mean-spirited.
    • ‘Bah, humbug!’
    • Scrooge hates Christmas.
    • Encounters the ghost of his dead business partner who tells him he will be visited by three spirits who will show him his past, his present, and his future.
    • There are lots of traditions that we now celebrate because Dickens wrote about them.
    • Much of the world he described was based on real life as he observed it.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Introduce the film clip.
    • The Man Who Invented Christmas.
    • Tells the story of how Charles Dickens might have come up with the story.
    • Play the clip from The Man Who Invented Christmas (Parallel Films, 2017, cert PG).
    • Start time: 00:17:17 (beginning of chapter 3)
    • End time: 00:22:56
    • Clip length: 5 minutes 39 seconds
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • It’s tempting at Christmas to forget about other people.
    • We can become quite selfish.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • In the clip, Charles Dickens said:
    • ‘Christmas is, or ought to be, the one time of the year when men or women open their shut-up hearts and think of the people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures altogether’.
    • Dickens understood that Christmas is about celebrating something that is not at all selfish.
    • Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth.
    • Jesus’ birth is about God choosing to come to earth in order to show us that he loves us.
    • By choosing to be born as a human being, in a stable, to a poor family, God was choosing to do something completely unselfish.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Philippians 2:5-11
    • ‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ The Bible tells us that Jesus was God.
    • He chose to come and live on earth and even to die on a cross so that we would understand how much God loves us.
    • Christmas is a celebration of God’s love that was shown in the gift he gave us – his own Son.
    • That’s worth celebrating.
    • Celebrate by sharing what we have and looking out for other people.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Christmas is a time to enjoy the presents, the food, the holiday.
    • Also a time of year when we can choose to follow Charles Dickens’ advice and think about other people.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Thinking of others at Christmas.
    • Go and help with a charity.
    • Include people.
    • Be really patient with your brother or sister this year.
    • Choose not to grumble about your family.
    • Choosing not to be selfish doesn’t have to involve big gestures.
    • Sometimes it’s just about being kind and thinking of other people as well as yourself.
    • Everyone needs help at some point in life.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • This Christmas, why don’t you choose to help someone else?

Photo copyright for True or False Quiz PowerPoint: Slide 1 Pixabay.com / Slide 2 Public domain / Slide 3 image 2 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 4 image 4 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 5 image 6 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 6 image 14 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 7 image 6 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 8 image 11 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 9 John Lewis by James Petts American flag Pixabay.com decorations Pixabay.com / Slide 10 Pixabay.com / Slide 11 Pixabay.com / Slide 12 image 1 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 13 Pixabay.comSlide 14 image 12 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 15 Pixabay.com / Slide 16 Public domain / Slide 17 Cinema Center Films / Slide 18 Cinema Center Films / Slide 19 Pixabay.com / Slide 20 Pixabay.com 

Photo copyright for The Man Who Invented Christmas PowerPoint: Slide 1 Pixabay.com / Slide 2 and 8 Kerry Brown – © Garlands Films DAC / Slide 3 Parallel Films/Rhombus Media / Slide 4 Parallel Films/Rhombus Media / Slide 5 Kerry Brown – © Garlands Films DAC / Slide 6 Kerry Brown – © Garlands Films DAC / Slide 7 image 12 www.Lumoproject.com / Slide 9 volunteers Pixabay.com girls Pixabay.com family Pixabay.com / Slide 10 Pixabay.com


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Father God thank you for Christmas. Thank you for presents and food and family and holidays. Thank you for the gift of your son Jesus. Help us not to be selfish but to share what we have and include others. Amen.

Reflection

  • This Christmas, why don’t you choose to help someone else?

 YOU WILL NEED:

  1. A copy of The Man Who Invented Christmas (Parallel Films, 2017, cert PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. True or False Quiz PowerPoint.
  3. The Man Who Invented Christmas PowerPoint.

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