I'm further along then this but the introduction is L O N G and I'm not out of it yet, though I've been reading steadily for a bit.
It's certainly been educational though. I wanted to share a few notes and info I've picked up, as well as some interesting books that I've been looking for while reading this.
Apparently when Dickens wrote this, Christmas was in decline: "Dickens has even been credited with almost single-handedly reviving the holiday customs." (xiv) The Puritan takeover followed by the Industrial Revolution (where more then Scrooge apparently worked men through the holiday) weakened the traditions.
Essays, etc. were written, one titled The Examination and Tryal of Old Father Christmas (1678) stated that Father Christmas "'of the Town of Superstition, in the County of Idolatary,' now stood accused of having 'from time to time, abused the people of this Common-wealth, drawing and inticing them to Drunkenness, Gluttony, and unlawful Gaming, Wantonness, Uncleanness, Lasciviousness, Cursing, Swearing, abuse of the Creatures, some to one Vice, and some to another; all to Idleness.'" (xv)
Christmas carols were collected as if folklore (seems to me) - Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (1833) and works from America also interested people - Washington Irving's Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon and Clement Moore's An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas (Twas the Night Before Christmas is the name we mostly know it by) (xvii)
Here's a bad bet to take! Abraham Hayward: "The fact is, Mr. Dickens writes too often and too fast...If he persists much longer in this course, it requires no gift of prophecy to foretell his fate - he has risen like a rocket, and he will come down like the stick." (xxii)
The story for A Christmas Carol came out of the idea of Want and Ignorance; also drew from The Goblin and the Sexton from The Pickwick Papers which has elements from Irving's Rip Van Winkle. He said while writing it he "wept, and laughed, and wept again." (xxxiv)
What distinguishes A Christmas Carol from all previous holiday work is its conscious recognition that this festive season, as Scrooge is reminded in Stave 1, "is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices." (xxxv-vi)
Laman Blanchard "shrewdly predicted that A Christmas Carol would be 'as surely heard and remembered a hundred Christmases to come. And may the wise and merry author of it live to see that we are not false prophets.'" (liii)
By 1844 and 45, the story was already a part of Christmas lore; books were compared to it, etc. (lix)
Everyone seemed to be writing one. Dickens wrote several but only Carol is really remembered and celebrated to this degree. Magazines filled with them and every publisher had on for the holiday season. Thackeray wrote a series including The Rose and the Ring (1855) that sounds interesting. Hans Christian Anderson dedicated a collection of seven fairy tales to Dickens. He uses Christmas similarly to Dickens - The Little Match Girl, The little Fir Tree, etc. Oscar Wilde wrote The Young King.(lxxxiii-iv)