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Christmas

A Candid History

Bruce David Forbes (Author)

Available worldwide
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Paperback, 187 pages
ISBN: 9780520258020
November 2008
$20.95, £14.95
Other Formats Available:
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 Christmas—from 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?
Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. First There Was Winter
2. Christmas Comes Late
3. Christmas Is Like a Snowball
4. From Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus
5. And Then There Was Money
6. Wrestling with Christmas

Notes
Annotated Bibliography
Index
Bruce David Forbes, Professor of Religious Studies at Morningside College, is coeditor, with Jeffrey Mahan of Religion and Popular Culture in America (UC Press) and coeditor, with Jeanne Halgren Kilde, of Rapture, Revelation, and the End Times: Exploring the Left Behind Series
“Colloquial, straightforward, and colorful. . . . Forbes makes the details delicious.”—Historian Magazine
“Wonderfully perceptive as well as entertaining.”—Santa Fe New Mexican
"A very readable and enjoyable book. . . . The author has a style that makes learning about this holiday interesting and even a little fun. . . . He also offers some profound thoughts about religious celebrations and their meanings. . . . Many of these facts should make the reader look at the holiday with new eyes.”—Tidings
“Informative account of the evolution of Christmas and its customs and rituals.”—Kansas City Kansan
“An accessible and informative read. . . . For the many who do not wish for added stress during the holiday season, this book will provide readers with basic history in a highly manageable and enjoyable way.”—Foreword
“After reading his book many, especially non-church goers, feel less guilty about enjoying the holiday.”—Reuters News Agency
“The entertaining book guides the reader through Christmas’ history.”—Religion News Service
“The entertaining book guides the reader through Christmas’ history.”—Raleigh News & Observer
“Forbes pokes into his subject with a scholar’s willingness to dig into esoteric areas for the truth, tempered by a wonderful, wide-eyed curiosity. There are tidbits in here that will satisfy fact-hounds; a few argument-solvers (or starters); and some solid ideas to help you get past all that holiday stress and reclaim Christmas.”—Northwest Mississippi Daily Journal
"A very readable and enjoyable book. . . . The author has a style that makes learning about this holiday interesting and even a little fun. . . . He also offers some profound thoughts about religious celebrations and their meanings. . . . Many of these facts should make the reader look at the holiday with new eyes.”—Catholic Accent
“Forbes pokes into his subject with a scholar’s willingness to dig into esoteric areas for the truth, tempered by a wonderful, wide-eyed curiosity. There are tidbits in here that will satisfy fact-hounds; a few argument-solvers (or starters); and some solid ideas to help you get past all that holiday stress and reclaim Christmas.”—Stephenville Empire-Tribune (Tx)
“Forbes pokes into his subject with a scholar’s willingness to dig into esoteric areas for the truth, tempered by a wonderful, wide-eyed curiosity. There are tidbits in here that will satisfy fact-hounds; a few argument-solvers (or starters); and some solid ideas to help you get past all that holiday stress and reclaim Christmas.”—Sunday Messenger (Fort Dodge, Ia)
“Forbes pokes into his subject with a scholar’s willingness to dig into esoteric areas for the truth, tempered by a wonderful, wide-eyed curiosity. There are tidbits in here that will satisfy fact-hounds; a few argument-solvers (or starters); and some solid ideas to help you get past all that holiday stress and reclaim Christmas.”—St. Charles County Business Record (Mo)
“Forbes leaves no stone unturned, digging up every detail about the holiday in America. The result is an interesting book that is sure to make you the biggest Christmas know-it-all at the office party.”—Bookpage
“Forbes pokes into his subject with a scholar’s willingness to dig into esoteric areas for the truth, tempered by a wonderful, wide-eyed curiosity. There are tidbits in here that will satisfy fact-hounds; a few argument-solvers (or starters); and some solid ideas to help you get past all that holiday stress and reclaim Christmas.”—Independent (Gallup, Nm)
“An overview that is informed yet concise. . . . The book is valuable for its well-proven insistence that Christmas has always been as much a social and commercial festival as a religious one, debunking naïve assumptions that it used to be a purely spiritual holiday in a bygone halcyon age.”—Publishers Weekly
"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
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