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Search tags: History-of-American-Christmas
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review 2014-12-06 20:37
The Battle for Christmas
The Battle for Christmas - Stephen Nissenbaum

How I ended up between its sheets: When Book Riot asked readers what they were reading for Christmas, it got me thinking. While I normally don’t read anything different than normal during the holiday season, I decided to change that. After a bit of research, I settled on this history of American Christmas.

 

What stimulated me:

  • I love history and I seem to have inherited my grandmother’s Christmas freak gene, so a book combining the two is a no-brainer.
  • The clear, detailed explanation of the holiday’s evolution and how our modern Christmas came to be so.
  • This read contains tidbits about Christmas that most never knew and couldn’t imagine, e.g., it being outlawed by the Puritans, its former carnival-like atmosphere, the connection between it and charity, its original focus (hint: not children or family), origins of its commercialization.
  • Covers varying traditions in several parts of the country: New England, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, and the South.
  • Reprints of earliest Christmas illustrations

 

What turned me off:

  • This is a scholarly work, which I liked, but sometimes the level of detail, number of examples, and constant citing of historical documents became a bit tedious. In truth, I skimmed over some parts.

 

Final Thoughts: This is a fascinating book, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Given its academic bent, it is dense reading that for some will be way more than they ever wanted to know about Christmas. Too, it may not necessarily put one in the Christmas mood, if that is the aim. On the other hand, if one wants to see exactly how Christmas in the U.S. came to be what it is, this book is the ticket.

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