The Christmas Book

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

When you think of Christmas what emotions, associations and memories are conjured up? For some it is the most eagerly awaited, magical time of the year, whereas for others it is a time to be endured through gritted teeth. Whatever your view of Christmas, one thing is for sure, it is almost impossible to ignore. But how much do we really know about its origins and development, its history and traditions? Now many of these knowledge gaps will be filled after reading Andy Thomas's fascinating journey through all things Christmas. From mince pies to carols, from yule logs to turkey, it is all there. 

The history of Christmas is rather absorbing with its origins found in ancient festivals celebrating Midwinter and its eventual supplication by Constantine of the Roman festival of Saturnalia. It is surprising how very little content of the Bible is actually devoted to Christ's birth. Although largely focused on the UK, there are references to the Christmas tradition throughout the world. The book looks at medieval ‘misrule', Tudor unrestrained excesses and Christmas's  practical disappearance under subsequent Puritan influence. Its reemergence very much a Victorian appropriation of existing German traditions. With its wonderful graphics and photographs the book will makes a sublime addition to the coffee table as guests arrive for some seasonal food and drink.. A perfect buy for this time of year.
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I enjoyed finding out more about the background of Christmas, and this book gives a full general background of the most well-known aspects of Christmas around the world. 

Reading about traditions from all over the world and their origins, made me think about my own way of spending Christmas and where that would come from. 

Although Christmas changed so much over the centuries, we still keep the same feeling on Christmas day.
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A well researched book, detailing the origins of many of the components/traditions that are now seen as an integral part of Christmas. 
It is written from a secular point of view, and some of the "Christian aspects" of Christmas are given less prominence than you may expect (though we are reminded that the bible doesn't actually tell us how many wise men there were!) in favour of a heavy focus on the Roman & pagan origins, but there are references to Egyptian gods, the puritan ban of Christmas following the Civil War and the Victorian popularisation of Christmas trees! 

The charming illustrations are a lovely addition to a book that will be a great addition to any family Christmas ... It's a book best read in small chunks and I can totally see that it could become a tradition in itself to bring this out annually to read part each evening or over the years with children as they grow & learn about new traditions

Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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Did you know that Christmas was once banned in England and Scotland, or that Queen Charlotte introduced the Christmas tree to Great Britain? Andy Thomas relates these stories, and other interesting facs about Christmas in this charming and interesting book about the history of Christmas.  I knew a lot about the history of Christmas already, but I learned even more from this book.  

Thomas writes from a secular point of view, and annoyed me by using the modern abbreviations BCE and CE for B.C. and A.D. He also focuses somewhat on the Roman and pagan origins of Christmas. However, if you want to read more about the history of Christmas traditions, such as wassailing, carol-singing and Christmas greenery, this is a great book.
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This is a nifty short book crammed full with color illustrations and black-and-white drawings that traces the history of the Christmas celebration, going all the way back to Egyptian celebrations of the god Horus and non-Christian solstice festivals. The Christian embracing—and frequent rejection of—a celebration of Jesus' birth is nicely summarized, with a section on the Puritan ban on the holiday after the English Civil War.

Although Thomas is from Great Britain and chiefly writes about the English and American way of celebrating the holidays, there are frequent asides to interesting customs in other countries, involving the Yule Lads in Scandinavia and Papai Noël in Brazil, and even a page about Russia's Grandfather Frost traveling with the Snow Maiden (the only male gift bringer to have a female sidekick). If you weren't aware previously, you'll discover that the Bible never mentions how many wise men (nor calls them kings nor states what they brought), that Prince Albert did not introduce the first Christmas tree into England, that the authorship of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" is still in doubt, and that Stonehenge probably chiefly celebrates the winter solstice, not the summer, among other things. (Although: Note to the author, the narrator of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was not nodding off in front of the fire; he was in bed, with his nightcap on, remember? Aroused by such a clatter that he flew to the window to see what was the matter?)

A great jumping off point to so many books about Christmas history and customs, from Williams Sansom's Christmas to Penne Restad's Christmas in America to Stephen Nissenbaum's The Battle for Christmas to Clement Miles and Karal Ann Marling, and more!
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I've given this book an average of 3 stars as neutral ground as i haven't read it, but not from lack of trying.  the version i got just wont work :(  the description definatly sounds like the type of book i would buy so i guess i'll just have to buy it :) sorry i couldn't be more help.
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The most salient aspect of this book for me was the wonderful illustrations. Taken from post cards, photos, and illustrations from archives and other works, they accompany the text admirably. This is a book to be read while sitting in front of a warming fire with a cup of hot chocolate, or to be read in small bits when taking a break from the Christmas madness. The book is divided into sections that describe historical aspects of Christmas, from its religious and ancient origins to modern day. In addition, one can find sections on Christmas in different countries and the meanings of varied Christmas symbols. Readers who are looking for an enjoyable read that evokes the spirit of the Christmas season will not be disappointed with this book. It would also make a great gift book.

I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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A look at different points and aspects of Christmas and the days around this time of year. Not just looking at the Christian celebration but Pagan roots and the commercialization of it - with some other topics.
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A well-researched, beautiful book about the history of Christmas. A truly enjoyable read for those who are Christmas obsessed but important for those who may have lost a little of their Christmas spirit over the years. This book is a stunning reminder of what Christmas means and why it holds such a special place in the hearts of many, all over the world. I really loved reading this book and it has me ready to embrace the season!
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A well researched and entertaining story of Christmas.
I liked how it's written and the illustrations and it's an informative read.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review! 

I was quite excited to read this book- one of my fields of study is the history of Christmas, and I'm always happy to see it made more available. However, this was incredibly brief. I think it could have been fleshed out a little bit more- Thomas covers the medieval and early modern quite well, but the nineteenth and twentieth centuries feel rushed and like an afterthought. He also did include any info about Gerry Bowler's works, who is one of the leading scholars on this history of Christmas, in the recommended reading section which I found odd. This book would be good if the reader knew absolutely nothing about Christmas, but needs more info for most people.
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"Christmas can be what you want it to be, wherever you are, and whether your celebration is grand or modest."

This was a cute little book to read just in time for the holiday season to begin. A lot of research clearly went into the creation of the book and the author seems to have a blast tracing the history of what the reader knows as the Christmas holiday and tracing it back through time. The biography and index excited the researcher side of me, but this was an easy and enjoyable read as well.
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Superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL			
			
I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  			
			
From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.			

In an intriguing and entertaining journey, this book uncovers the fascinating background to one of the biggest festive seasons. From the ancient ceremonies celebrating Midwinter to festivals of Sol Invictus and from Constantine’s establishment of a Christian festival to medieval ‘misrule’, the time around the solstice has long been an opportunity for people to come together and rejoice. These festive traditions have developed in many directions around the world. This book tells the fuller story behind the sparkle and the merriment and shows why, despite all the modern commercialism, Christmas has survived and still has meaning for us today.

An interesting book about the origin of Christmas and its origins - it has been totally commercialised now so it was nice to read about the real meaning, no matter what that is to you.  You might want to read some parts to your kids to remind them that, well, Christmas' first six letters have a lot to do with what the season is about to most people. (I am not going to do any more comments about the religious aspect beyond that as it is a multicultural world and my library clientele decidedly is as well!)
	
As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "Social Influencer Millennials" on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it 🎅🎅🎅🎅
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Ok I confess I am obsessed with Christmas I love everything about it and can’t wait until the start of December to buy my real tree and get it decorated. If you are like me this book is for you. It is full of facts and story’s about everything you could possibly want to know about Christmas and all of the stories are accompanied by beautiful graphics as well. This is a must for everyone’s Christmas list.
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WOW The Christmas Book by Andy Thomas is fantastic.  

Its a well written, consise and well researched book with information about the history of the Festive Period. From Religious Ferstivals to Mythology and of course foods of the season.

A must read if you love the festive season. I loved all the beautiful pictures in the book as well.

Thanks to Netgalley and  Quatro Publishing (Ivy Press) for the ARC.  This review is my own opinion.
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A concise, massively informative, coherent, and entertaining work that gathers much of the interesting data that informs what we perceive as the Christmas season these days, in all of its dimensions. 

The choice photos & drawings go a long way to support Thomas' various chapters, wherein he's giving the history of the holiday that would become Christmas, where/how it was different in other regions of the world, how those either supposedly or officially joined to form the current amalgamate, the war to rid the holiday, ironically set forth by Christians...that's just for starters. 

Thomas seems keenly aware of the short-term attention span of some readers, because he doesn't linger long on any one subject--which must've been pretty tough, as I'm sure this is just a Greatest-Hits overview of the holiday's history--and the overall length here is exceptionally friendly for those who don't have a ton of time to read (or read slowly). The result is a work that treats you at every page. 

I'm a fan of the cohesion between chapters, Thomas' enthusiasm, his research, and the overall product. There's no way you won't learn something. Give it a read. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group -Ivy Press for the advance review.
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