A Biography

Book - 2017
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A critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author explores the Christmas holiday, from the original festival through present day traditions.

Christmas has always been a magical time. Or has it? Thirty years after the first recorded Christmas, the Pope was already warning that too many people were spending the day, not in worship, but in partying and eating to excess. By 1616, the playwright Ben Jonson was nostalgically remembering Christmas in the old days, certain that it had been better then.

Other elements of Christmas are much newer - who would have thought gift-wrap is a novelty of the twentieth century? That the first holiday parade was neither at Macy's, nor even in the USA?

Some things, however, never change. The first known gag holiday gift book, The Boghouse Miscellany , was advertised in the 1760s 'for gay Gallants, and good companions', while in 1805, the leaders of the Lewis and Clark expedition exchanged - what else? - presents of underwear and socks.

Christmas is all things to all people: a religious festival, a family celebration, a period of eating and drinking. In Christmas: A Biography , bestselling author and acclaimed social historian Judith Flanders casts a sharp eye on myths, legends and history, deftly moving from the origins of the holiday in the Roman empire, through Christmas trees in central Europe, to what might be the first appearance of Santa Claus - in Switzerland - to draw a picture of the season as it has never been seen before.

Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2017
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781250118349
Branch Call Number: 394.2663 FLA 2017
Characteristics: vii, 245 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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CircMary Jan 05, 2018

Interesting overview of the whole Christmas thing - what we think it is, what we want it to be, and what it really is.

Jan 02, 2018

I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about how the celebrations of Christmas evolved over time. You can read the whole book or just the chapters you are interested in. I would highly recommended to a casual reader or someone interested in authenticated history.

Dec 27, 2017

Wanted to like this more but it came down to Christmas is banned, no, it's not, yes, it is, etc. Wish there were a lot more tidbits.

Nov 07, 2017

A little disorganized, and I don't know that anyone would read all the quoted old poems, but full of interesting tidbits about the history of Christmas.

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