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Christmas and the British: A Modern History Paperback – 6 Oct 2016
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A wide-ranging survey of our festive past ... There are many intriguing little examples of how Christmas was different in the past.
-- Book of the Day, The Guardian
Full of intriguing fragments ... [and] perceptive on the inherent nostalgia of the celebrations ... [Johnes's] sources are various and doubtless impeccable. -- Times Literary Supplement
A superb piece of social history, full of fascinating detail, that casts new light not just on Christmas, but on the country itself.
-- Alwyn Turner, author of 'A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s'
Martin Johnes's Christmas and the British is a fascinating, vivid and beautifully researched history. Drawing on an enormous range of material, from Mass Observation to Jackie annuals, it tells a story of social and cultural change through our changing relationship with this festival. While never losing its scholarly bearings, it also manages to be full of warmth and human interest. -- Joe Moran, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
About the Author
Martin Johnes is Reader in History at Swansea University, UK. He is the author of Wales since 1939 (2012), A History of Sport in Wales (2005) and Aberfan: Government and Disasters (2000)
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In many ways it is about Britain, our hopes and fears, its structure and shape. C. S. Lewis said there were three Christmases: the religious, a merry holiday and a commercial racket. As the author shows there are in fact many more.
The book is organised around 6 themes: consumerism, family, tradition, religion, communities and government. Cutting across all these are two other key currents, gender and class. Consumerism deals with the economics of Xmas over the century, family looks at the different things Christmas means for men women and children. The traditions and rituals chapter examine cards, decorations, food and carols, those aspects that affect the community are examined, and government involvement in Xmas is also discussed.
Christmas stimulates different emotions which include love, benevolence and loneliness. But ultimately it is a redemptive time. Xmas has been a force for good. It gives pleasure, time off work and puts a smile on faces.
This is a very unusual approach to the festive season. It is written with verve and clarity. An excellent analysis of a time of the year soon upon us. The chapter on the shared Christmas is particularly interesting.
There is a bibliography plus notes