University of California Press
Written for everyone who loves and is simultaneously driven crazy by the holiday season, Christmas: A Candid History provides an enlightening, entertaining perspective on how the annual Yuletide celebration got to be what it is today. In a fascinating, concise tour through history, the book tells the story of Christmasfrom its pre-Christian roots, through the birth of Jesus, to the holiday's spread across Europe into the Americas and beyond, and to its mind-boggling transformation through modern consumerism. Packed with intriguing stories, based on research into myriad sources, full of insights, the book explores the historical origins of traditions including Santa, the reindeer, gift giving, the Christmas tree, Christmas songs and movies, and more. The book also offers some provocative ideas for reclaiming the joy and meaning of this beloved, yet often frustrating, season amid the pressures of our fast-paced consumer culture.
DID YOU KNOW
For three centuries Christians did not celebrate Christmas?
Puritans in England and New England made Christmas observances illegal?
St. Nicholas is an elf in the famous poem "The Night Before Christmas"?
President Franklin Roosevelt changed the dateof Thanksgiving in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season?
Coca-Cola helped fashion Santa Claus's look in an advertising campaign?
"This is a forthright, accessible, informative and interesting account of the evolution of Christmas customs and celebrations. Forbes's tone is direct, friendly, and open, and he serves as a companionable and trustworthy guide who candidly shares his knowledge and doubts, passions and worries, surprises and disappointments. Thoroughly engaging and studded with fascinating details, this book will reward any reader who picks it up. This book should be read and given at Christmas for many years to come."--Eugene V. Gallagher, Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College
"This book offers an accessible, jargon-free, fast-paced, and reliable historical sketch of Christmas and its evolution from pre-Christian times to the present. Based on sound scholarship and written in a brisk, readable style, it is an excellent book for reference purposes, classroom use, and recreational reading. I might also add, it would make a great Christmas gift."--Dell deChant, author of Sacred Santa: Religious Dimensions of Consumer Culture