Dreaming of a White Christmas.

25th December 2017

A dusting of fresh snow at 900 metres

Cloudy conditions looking across the Glen

There was a dusting of fresh snow above about 850 metres today. Although a bit more wintery than the last few days, although I am not sure you could really call it a white Christmas.

It appears that the British preoccupation with “white” Christmases stems from the writings of Charles Dickens. Dickens’ childhood in the 1810s, which coincided with the coldest decade in Britain since the 1690s, may have introduced snowy weather into the image of an ideal Christmas. Six of Dickens’s first nine Christmases were white, including one in the winter of 1813-14 during which the ice on the River Thames was thick enough to bear the weight of an elephant.

His novel A Christmas Carol is credited with establishing the Victorian genre of the Christmas story, and spurring a revival of the celebration of Christmas in early Victorian England. He may in part have written fondly of white Christmases as they may have reminded him of happy child Christmases with his family before his father fell into debt and was sent to the debtors’ prison.

As well as a cooler climate at the time, the prevalence of white Christmases in London at that time would have been helped by an event on the other side of the world. In 1815 Mount Tambora in Modern day Indonesia erupted.  This was one of the most powerful eruptions in recorded history. Ash from the eruption spread around the world, reflecting sunlight, and further lowering global temperatures.

Interesting as these cultural effects of the colder conditions are, I can’t help but thinking about how  winter conditions in Glen Coe would have been. Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, Dickens does not mention ice formation on the West face of Aonach Dubh, or whether the gullies on the South Side of the Aonach Eagach had enough snow to ski. However, in my head it would have looked something like this……

Skiing in Glen Coe back in 1815, would it have looked something like this?

His novel A Christmas Carol is credited with establishing the Victorian genre of the Christmas story, and spurring a revival of the celebration of Christmas in early Victorian England.

Experts believe Dickens’ childhood in the 1810s, which coincided with the coldest decade in Britain since the 1690s, may have introduced snowy weather into the image of an ideal Christmas.

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