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Dec 22

The Christmas Season

Christmas Party
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Mr. Fezziwig's Ball
John Leech (1843)
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”Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking."

~ A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens (1843)

Along with Charles Dickens' classic tale, some other well- loved descriptions of memories of the warmth and cheer of old-fashioned Christmases include Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales, Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, and E.T.A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Do you have a favourite?

In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, bitter old man, is visited by three Christmas spirits on a Christmas Eve after a warning visitation by the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley.  The three spiritis, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future offer Scrooge an opportunity to reflect back on his life and impact on others in in the past, present, and the life yet to be.

 

The Ghost of Christmas Past transports Scrooge back to his own youth on another Christmas Eve, when as a young apprentice he attended a festive holiday party held by Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig each year for their employees:

"There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.” Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking."

This tartan design by Carol A.L. Martin was created with the warm colours of an old-fashioned and merry Christmas Party.

For the abridged text of A Christmas Carol which Charles Dickens used on his public reading tours, click the illustration of Mr. Fezziwig's Ball, for a perfect length story for a Christmas reading of one's own, beginning with the memorable first line, "Marley was dead, to begin with.  There is no doubt whatever about that."

and ending with a description of a transformed Ebenezer Scrooge ...

"... and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.  May that be truly said of us, and all of us!  And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!"