Christmas: A Biography

Christmas: A Biography

by Judith Flanders
Christmas: A Biography

Christmas: A Biography

by Judith Flanders


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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, one archbishop was already complaining that his flock was spending the day, not in worship, but in dancing and feasting to excess. By 1616, the playwright Ben Jonson was nostalgically remembering the Christmases of the old days, certain that they had been better then.

Other elements of Christmas are much newer--who would have thought gift-wrap was 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, bestselling author and acclaimed social historian Judith Flanders casts a sharp eye on its myths, legends and history, deftly moving from the origins of the holiday in the Roman empire, through the first appearance of Christmas trees in Central Europe, to what might be the origins of Santa Claus--in Switzerland--to draw a picture of the season as it has never been seen before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250190796
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/22/2019
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,036,768
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.58(d)

About the Author

About The Author
JUDITH FLANDERS is a New York Times bestselling author and one of the foremost social historians of the Victorian era. She is a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times Literary Supplement. She lives in London.

Table of Contents

A partial holiday calendar


1 Feast of the Circumcision, or Holy Name of Jesus
5 Twelfth Night
6 Epiphany
2 Candlemas
25 Lady Day
24 Midsummer
29 Michaelmas
1 All Saints’ Day
2 All Souls’ Day
11 St Martin
6 St Nicholas
13 St Lucy of Syracuse
21 St Thomas the Apostle
25 Christmas Day
26 St Stephen
27 St John the Evangelist
28 Feast of the Holy Innocents
31 St Sylvester

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