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Five literary Christmas scenes

December 25, 2017 by Nora Nagy

When we think of Christmas, our memories often get mixed with scenes that we have read in books, poems or seen in films. We have five stories to share with you, all of which tell us about a different aspects of Christmas.

Little Women

There are many heartwarming moments in this story, but the scene I like the most is when Mr March arrives home as a surprise. It reminds us of the most special presents you can give at Christmas: your time, presence, attention and love.

The family also has a delicious meal together with a fat turkey, plum pudding and jelly. But all of this would be very different without the happiness they feel just because they are together.

Christmas in Little Women. Illustration by Cecilia Tamburini. © Helbling Languages

Anne of Green Gables

Do you remember the scene when Matthew goes to buy the dress with the puffy sleeves for Anne? My favourite character in the book is definitely Matthew Cuthbert. When he goes to the shop, he is too shy to  ask for the dress so he ends up buying a rake (in winter!) and lots of brown sugar before he plucks up his courage. Anne could not be happier when she sees the dress at Christmas.

This scene tells us so much about the love Matthew feels for his daughter, the magic of giving and receiving gifts, and of course also about the style of dresses that were popular in the early 1900s.

Matthew is buying the dress. Illustration by Arianna Operamolla. © Helbling Languages
  • Read more about the Helbling Reader adaptation of Anne of Green Gables - Anne Grows Up written by Lucy Maud Montgomery here. The story was illustrated by Arianna Operamolla.
  • Get some ideas to read Anne of Green Gables in class: Anne of Green Gables projects for the English class

A Christmas Carol

This is the quintessential Christmas story. If I had to choose one scene, it would be the first section of the final part of the story, when Scrooge's transformation happens, sending us a message that positive change is possible. He opens the window and shouts out into the world:

"I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!"

Scrooge at Christmas. Illustration by Valentina Mai. © Helbling Languages

The Blue Carbuncle

This Sherlock Holmes story gives us a different aspect of Christmas fun. Sherlock and Dr Watson, in their usual smart way, solve a mystery together. How did a precious blue stone end up inside a Christmas goose? If you read this short story, you will have the entertainment of solving a problem through the fascinating logic of Sherlock's mind. My favourite scene is the very last one, when Sherlock talks about saving a man, saying "Besides, it is the season of forgiveness", a gentle reminder that helping and forgiving others are important acts of kindness at the end of the year.

The Christmas goose is found in the street. Illustration by Agilulfo Russo. © Helbling Languages

A Christmas Present for Barney Bunny

This is a story of a playful bunny family at Christmas. My favourite scene is the very first one, which gives us the idea of a perfectly happy and chaotic family and their busy but loving mummy. The little ones are running around and end up getting sent out to play in the snow: a perfect winter scene with the kids playing outside. Unfortunately, these days we mostly experience snow from stories and in pictures, but these scenes of making snowballs and fighting in the snow reminds me of the best moments of past Christmases.

Under the Christmas tree. Illustration by Lorenzo Sabbatini. © Helbling Languages
  • Read more about the Helbling Young Reader original story of A Christmas Present for Barney Bunny written by Maria Cleary here. The book was illustrated by Lorenzo Sabbatini.

What are your favourite literary Christmas scenes?

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