In Defense of Ebenezer Scrooge: Why Entrepreneurs and Business People Hate Christmas

Aaron Dinin, PhD
4 min readDec 23, 2019
If you had to deal with uncontrollable revenue declines for two months, you’d be scowling, too.

“Bah! Humbug!” is how Ebenezer Scrooge famously responds to other people’s excitement about Christmas.

For over 175 years, people have interpreted his words from Charles Dickens’s well-tread holiday story A Christma Carol to mean Mr. Scrooge is a crotchety old man who hates the “holiday spirit.” But those people aren’t entrepreneurs. And they don’t run businesses.

Mr. Scrooge, in contrast, is an entrepreneur and business owner. By all accounts, he’s a successful one, too, even being described by Dickens in the third paragraph of the story as “an excellent man of business.”

As an entrepreneur and businessman myself, I feel obligated to take this opportunity to defend Ebenezer Scrooge because I think he’s gotten a bad wrap. Frankly, I agree with Ebenezer Scrooge: I hate Christmas, too. Bah! Humbug!

Before any Christmas ghosts show up to terrify me into seeing the error of my ways, let me explain why I hate Christmas. I know I’m not the only entrepreneur who does. In fact, lots of entrepreneurs and business people hate Christmas for the same reason: we can’t get anything done!

On Christmas, the world stops. Markets close, businesses shut down, consumers stay home so everyone can spend time with their families, exchange gifts, and eat themselves into food comas. While that’s great for them, and I enjoy it on a personal level, it’s terrible for people trying to run businesses because if people aren’t buying, we can’t sell them anything.

To be fair, the problem isn’t Christmas itself. One day without sales each year isn’t going to wreck a business. The bigger problem is that the business slowdown caused by the “holiday spirit” begins a few days before Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until the second week of the new year. From the end of November through the beginning of January, it feels like the only things people buy are turkeys, presents, and plane tickets. That’s great if you’re a consumer products retailer, but it’s terrible for everyone else in the business community.

When you own a business, being able to sell things is the core of what you do; it’s how you make money. While I don’t believe money is the only thing that matters in…

Aaron Dinin, PhD

I teach entrepreneurship at Duke. Software Engineer. PhD in English. I write about the mistakes entrepreneurs make since I’ve made plenty. More @ aarondinin.com