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From Encyclopædia Britannica Online: "Christmas, Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. The English term Christmas (“mass on Christ’s day”) is of fairly recent origin. The earlier term Yule may have derived from the Germanic jōl or the Anglo-Saxon geōl, which referred to the feast of the winter solstice. The corresponding terms in other languages—Navidad in Spanish, Natale in Italian, Noël in French—all probably denote nativity. The German word Weihnachten denotes “hallowed night.” Since the early 20th century, Christmas has also been a secular family holiday, observed by Christians and non-Christians alike, devoid of Christian elements, and marked by an increasingly elaborate exchange of gifts. In this secular Christmas celebration, a mythical figure named Santa Claus plays the pivotal role."
Stories and Reading
Inventing the Christmas Tree by A colorfully decorated Christmas tree, lit with twinkling lights, provokes awe and delight. We understand the lighted tree as a central symbol of the Christmas season, but what are the roots of the tradition? Who first thought to bedeck a tree, to bring it inside? How and where did the local activity grow into a widespread tradition, and how has the Christmas tree traveled across time and continents? Bernd Brunner's brief history--enriched by a selection of delightful and unusual historical illustrations--spans many centuries and cultures to illuminate the mysteries of the Christmas tree and its enduring hold on the human imagination. Tracing various European traditions from the Middle Ages forward, Brunner finds that only in the nineteenth century did Christmas trees become common in European family homes. In North America, the imported custom soon fascinated, though some found the tree not quite compatible with a Puritan mindset. Brunner explores how the Christmas tree entered mainstream American culture and how in recent times it has become globally popular. He introduces Jacqueline Kennedy's Nutcracker Tree in the White House, trees used to celebrate the New Year in Turkey, and the world's most expensive Christmas tree, erected in Abu Dhabi. The author also considers the place of the artificial tree and the ecological dimensions of the Christmas tree trade. A book rich with anecdote and insight, "Inventing the Christmas Tree" will enchant a wide audience.
Publication Date: 2012-01-01
Twas the Night Before Christmas by It's a quiet Christmas Eve. The snow is fresh and white, the kids are tucked in and dreaming, and even the mice are snug in their homes. But wait--what's that clatter? This classic Christmas poem was first published anonymously in a newspaper 1823, and it later appeared in an anthology of poetry from the American author Clement Clarke Moore in 1844. This unabridged version from a 1912 edition includes color illustrations from American artist Jessie Willcox Smith.
Publication Date: 2015-01-01
Christmas and the British: a Modern History by The modern Christmas was made by the Victorians and rooted in their belief in commerce, family and religion. Their rituals and traditions persist to the present day but the festival has also been changed by growing affluence, shifting family structures, greater expectations of happiness and material comfort, technological developments and falling religious belief. Christmas became a battleground for arguments over consumerism, holiday entitlements, social obligations, communal behaviour and the influence of church, state and media. Even in private, it encouraged reflection on social change and the march of time. Amongst those unhappy at the state of the world or their own lives, Christmas could induce much cynicism and even loathing but for a quieter majority it was a happy time, a moment of a joy in a sometimes difficult world that made the festival more than just an integral feature of the calendar: Christmas was one of British culture's emotional high points. Moreover, it was also a testimony to the enduring importance of family, shared values and a common culture in the UK. Martin Johnes shows how Christmas and its traditions have been lived, adapted and thought about in Britain since 1914. Christmas and the British is about the festival's social, cultural and economic functions, and its often forgotten status as both the most unusual and important day of the year
Publication Date: 2016-10-06
The Psychology of Santa by The 'Psychology of Santa' examines decades of psychological research, as well as studies in sociology, communication, history, and advertising, all of which deal with Christmas. The book examines what research can reveal to us about how psychologists and others view these customs and what they represent to our culture. A number of aspects of Christmas are explored, and this book offers an intriguing interpretation of our lives and customs. Topics covered include how Christmas is celebrated during wars, a history of selected customs and whether families today still engage in them, how different traditions of psychologists view Christmas, Christmas and stress, Christmas and depression and suicide, children's letters to Santa Claus, and children's beliefs in Santa and how they change with age.
Publication Date: 2009-08-03