illustration of Ebenezer Scrooge in silhouette walking toward a Christmas tree and followed by the three ghosts

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

Start Free Trial

Why Does Scrooge Not Like Christmas

Why doesn't Scrooge like Christmas in A Christmas Carol?

There are two main reasons that Scrooge dislikes Christmas. First, he associates it with reckless spending and wastefulness, something he does not understand. Second, and more importantly, he has a number of bad memories associated with Christmas. He spent the holiday alone, as a boy, abandoned at school by his family. His fiancée, Belle, broke up with him at Christmas because he was getting too greedy. Finally, Marley, his only friend, died on Christmas as well.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Scrooge seems to feel that Christmas is a time when people behave more irresponsibly with money than they do during the rest of the year. In the first stave, he says to his nephew, Fred, "What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you?" For Scrooge, acquiring money is the point of life, and all people do is spend it at Christmas, even when they do not really have the money to spend.

When the two gentlemen come collecting money for the poor, Scrooge tells them that his business partner, Marley, died seven years ago on "this very night": Christmas Eve. Marley was the only person Scrooge was really close to as an older adult, and we know that he didn't paint out Marley's name on the sign to their business after Marley died. When Marley died, this left Scrooge almost totally alone in the world, and since he died on Christmas Eve, this likely also makes the day a dark one for Scrooge.

When Scrooge's clerk, Bob Cratchit, expresses a desire for the day off on Christmas, Scrooge declares that it is neither "convenient" nor "fair" that he be expected to pay his employee for a day of no work. He claims that it is the same as "picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!" In other words, Scrooge feels cheated by the holiday.

In the second stave, we also learn that Scrooge had a pretty miserable childhood and was left alone at school, even on holidays like Christmas. When everyone else went home to be with family, he was abandoned and alone, with only his imagination and the fictional characters in books to keep him company. He recalls these characters—Ali Baba, Valentine and Orson, Robinson Crusoe—as vividly as if they had been real people, probably because they were all he had. Christmas would have been a terrible and blunt reminder of how alone Scrooge was while all his young classmates were home and enjoying their holiday.

Also during this stave, we learn that Belle, Scrooge's former fiancée, called off their engagement around Christmas. At this point, his face "had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice" that would show that his greedy "passion had taken root" already. After Belle leaves him, Scrooge has no one except Marley, but we know how that partnership ends as well.

In short, Christmas has always been a time when Scrooge has felt abandoned—as a child by his family, as a young man by Belle, as an older adult by Marley—so he seems only to associate the holiday with pain (while others feel pleasure) and wastefulness.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Scrooge does not like Christmas because he has many negative memories associated with it.

When Scrooge is talking to Fred and the men collecting for charity, he tells them all kinds of reasons why he hates Christmas.  It costs him money because his employees get a day off.  “Idle” people expect to be taken care of.  Christmas is expensive.  Scrooge scolds Fred on celebrating Christmas.

Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? (Stave One)

These all seem like good reasons to hate Christmas for a man like him.  They are logical and support everything we know about Scrooge.  However, when the ghosts visit, we start to see the real reason Scrooge hates Christmas.  He has had to deal with many negative memories on and near the day.

First of all, we learn that Scrooge was left alone at school during Christmas as a child.  After his mother died, it was only his father and sister.  His father just left him at his boarding school instead of bringing him home for the holidays like all of the other kids.  As a result, Scrooge alone spent the holidays miserably wishing he had company other than books.  Something like that would definitely make a person hate Christmas.

It gets worse though.  After a relatively happy period where his father brought him home and apprenticed him to the cheerful Mr. Fezziwig, Scrooge received another blow right at Christmastime.  His fiancé Belle dumped him.

“You may—the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will— have pain in this. A very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which it happened well that you awoke. May you be happy in the life you have chosen!” (Stave One)

She dumped him at Christmastime, and ever since he has been alone.  That is another reason to hate Christmas.  Scrooge may have been more focused on money than her, but you can tell from his reaction to seeing Belle dumping him that she really hurt him.

It does not end there.  The last terrible thing that happens to Scrooge on Christmas Eve is his partner and only friend Jacob Marley dying.  Although we know from the vision of Belle that Scrooge did not even sit with his friend as he was dying, we can tell from his reaction to seeing and talking to Jacob’s ghost that he really cared about his partner.  Jacob was pretty much all he had.  Jacob dying on Christmas Eve was just another in a long line of terrible things that happened to Scrooge at Christmas time.

Yes, there are plenty of unemotional reasons why Scrooge hates Christmas.  It costs money to celebrate it and no one is working.  However, the truth behind Scrooge’s dislike of the holiday comes from all of the tragedy he suffered during the season.  It takes the intervention of the ghosts to show him that he is actually not alone.  Even though his beloved sister died, she lives in his nephew.  He can become a part of Bob Cratchit’s family, as he was a part of Fezziwig’s.  The holiday that was so terrible for him in the past can become a part of his future.


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team