A stocking-filler-sized compilation of Christmas lore, revealing the intriguing origins of the traditional festivities. Forty short pieces on individual traditions are each accompanied by charming vintage illustrations from the British Library’s collection of Christmas books, cards and ephemera.
Origins of the Feast at Christmas
The decision to celebrate Christ’s birthday on 25 December; the Yuletide festival of Anglo-Saxon England; Saturnalia; evergreens taken inside in midwinter; the original Captain Christmas
`Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ – Christmas in and out of Church
Holly symbolizing Christ’s crown of thorns; the role of Midnight Mass; European celebrations of Epiphany and the importance of the Three Kings
Christmas down the Ages
Mistletoe and kissing; the Puritan ban on Christmas; the Twelve Days of Christmas; Dickens’s recipe for Twelfth Night cake
The Transatlantic `Victorian’ Christmas
Nineteenth-century romanticisation of Christmas and invented traditions; goose clubs; advent calendars; Christmas cards and gift-giving
Individual, sometimes outlandish traditions from around the world
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