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4.6 out of 5 stars26
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 8 November 2012
A fascinating and enjoyable book, but for me it lost it's way a little towards the end. I had hoped for some information on Christmas laws which have not been repealed (or have they?) For instance the Elizabethan law which stated that you could only travel to church on Christmas day on foot.
The origins of some of the Christmas traditions were glossed over rather than looked at in depth.
This said it made a very enjoyable read and I shall probably dip into it again and again.
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After Can Reindeer Fly?: The Science of Christmas and The Christmas Book: A Treasury of Festive Facts, this is the third book I've bought, read and reviewed on the subject, but there have been plenty of others. Some aspects of Christmas history are not clear, so various opinions exist, and it is good to read about it from different authors. Those authors also bring different perspectives to the subject, so while they discuss a lot of the same things, they do so in different ways and with different priorities. Thus, although I haven't dug out the other two books to compare with this one in detail, I suspect that all three contain information not in the other two.

This book contains practical information such as how to make a snowman and a sledge, how to look after your Christmas tree, what to plant in your garden to attract birds during the winter, and a selection of recipes. In particular, the author discusses how to roast chestnuts (but NOT horse chestnuts - they are good for games of conkers, but not for eating) on an open fire, or in an oven if you haven't got an open fire. The recipes include some from Scotland, including bannocks, haggis and cloutie (or clootie) dumpling. I love cloutie dumpling, but only get a chance to eat it when visiting Montrose, and only then if my aunt opts to make some during my visit. As the author notes, it isn't just eaten at Christmas, but it is for special occasions, so I think it deserves its place here. If you want to try some, a recipe is in this book. (When I'm on my own, I buy ready-made food that I can shove in a microwave or conventional oven, or food that I can just boil or grill. Any other cookery is beyond me.)

The practical advice is only a small part of the book overall, but I enjoyed reading about it, even though I won't be making use of it. Almost inevitably for a book discussing historical food, Mrs Beeton gets a couple of mentions.

I was particularly interested to see what the author said about Christmas music. Her focus is on the history, beginning with the almost extinct tradition of wassailing and ends with the story of Good King Wenceslas, which I already knew from a study of ancestry. Wenceslas' evil brother Boleslav is the ancestor via European and British royalty of millions of. people who are alive today.

Scattered through the book, but particularly in a few pages (beginning p240) about Christmas Eve, are customs based on superstitions, some of which seem very odd. My only concession to superstition is to walk round ladders rather than under them, but this makes sense anyway. Still, it is amusing to read such stuff.

While some things are central to Christmas and inevitably covered, the book also covers such things as Christmas weather, Christmas during the two world wars of the 20th century, The book concludes with a chapter on writings - a Shakespeare poem followed by some articles and diary entries.

Many aspects of the origins of the modern Christmas that I can think of (and some I didn't think of) are discussed, some briefly, others at greater length, in this excellent book. There is, of course, no limit to what could be discussed, but all the essentials are covered and much else besides.
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on 24 December 2012
This book is very enjoyable and informative, with loads of interesting facts about the history if Christmas. A great read.
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VINE VOICEon 13 October 2014
I will keep this short and sweet. This wonderful book was a joy to pick up and put down. I have read every page of it! INow im going to start it again. Sad to some, but i really enjoyed reading about Christmas and all the trimmings. Im in the UK and this book evoked many happy memories. I love it! Im about to start on the Authors other book. Thank you for writing a book that is full of everything there is to know about Christmas. Ive learnt so much.
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on 4 December 2012
An interesting mix of history and tradition.
A good book to pick a page or two to read while you're having a coffee.
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on 2 March 2013
This is a lovely little book to dip in and out of, especially in the run up to Christmas. If you're a fan of the Edwardian or Victorian Christmas farms (as I am) then this is propbably right up your street. Excellent condition and delivery again.
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on 2 January 2013
No sooner had I hit the payment button and the product was pushed through the letterbox, it made the perfect surprise Christmas stocking filler and made great reading...
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on 21 January 2013
Every year I purchase a Christimas book. This book is full of information and has given us loads of facts about the season that we did not know.
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on 17 January 2013
Book arrived very timely but wasn't quite what was expected the explanation very long winded and not many subjects relevant or interesting.
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on 10 February 2013
this is a good book for everyoine to read , covering all facts and figures about christmas.. traditions customs , etc. can recommend
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