STORIES BEHIND THE GREAT TRADITION OF (Stories Behind Books) Hardcover – 3 Nov 2003
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The cheer of a crackling hearth fire. Colorful cards from friends and loved ones. An evergreen tree festooned with ornaments. The golden traditions of Christmas--gifts, wreaths, stockings, carols, mistletoe, and more--infuse our celebration of the season with meaning and glowing memories. And, in ways you may not realize, they point us to the birth of Christ. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas reveals the people, places, and events that shaped the best-loved customs of this merriest of holidays. Here are spiritual insights, true-life tales, and captivating legends to intrigue you and your family and bring new luster and depth to your celebration of Jesus' birth. Discover how *after eighteen centuries of all but ignoring the event, churches began to open the door for believers to commemorate Jesus' incarnation. *the evergreen tree, once a central theme in the worship practices of pagan cultures, came to represent the everlasting love of God. *the magi's three gifts--gold, frankincense, and myrrh--are filled with spiritual symbolism. The traditions of Christmas lend beauty, awe, and hope to the holiday, causing people all over the world to anticipate it with joy.The stories in this book will warm your heart as you rediscover the true and eternal significance of Christmas.
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He writes in the Introduction to this 2003 book, "Before we brood and protest too much over the ruin of what we think Christmas must have been like in generations long past, we might actually feel encouraged about the season we celebrate today when we consider what Christmas was REALLY like in the days of old."
Here are some quotations from the book:
"By the fourth century, the Roman Empire finally began to convert to Christianity. When this happened, Easter became one of the most celebrated holidays in the realm. Yet as many in the empire came to worship Jesus, the old traditions and holidays continued." (Pg. 13)
"In early sixteenth century Germany, Martin Luther embraced carols, thereby winning over many German Christians to the songs. Luther sang them with his children and encouraged his growing following to come together and sing them as a congregation." (Pg. 49)
"In an effort to bring some of the magic of the evergreen tree into their lives, Vikings would chop down a fir and place it in their homes. Having a tree in the house was said to bring the gift of strength to live through the worst stretches of winter." (Pg. 70-71)
"In Luke 2:16, it is clear that the shepherds traveled to the manger to see Jesus. Yet the Magi did not arrive in time to visit Jesus in his birthplace, nor, evidently, did they meet the shepherds." (Pg. 139)
"Most people today believe that the twelve days of Christmas start on December 12th or 13th and run through Christmas Eve or Christmas day. But in fact, the first day of Christmas is December 25th and the final day is January 5th." (Pg. 179)
"The Greek for Christ's name is Xristos (pronounced Christos). While it is well known that a fish was often used as a symbol to denote churches and Christian gathering places during the ancient days of the church, many Greeks also used the letter X .. as their symbol of faith... Therefore, the use of the letter X for Christ is one of the oldest traditions of the Christian faith." (Pg. 184)
What?!?!?!? According to the two biographers of St. Francis (St. Bonaventure and Thomas of Celano) there were no clay or wooden figures of Mary and Joseph. There were neither shepherds nor kings in the Nativity at Greccio, Italy in 1223. There was a feeding trough (manger), a live ox, and a live ass. According to Thomas, it was beautiful in its simplicity with the manger acting as the altar for the Christmas Mass.
It's time for Ace Collins to do some real research and rewrite his Christmas books instead of foisting fairytales on an unsuspecting public.
Granted the only selection that I read had to do with the Nutcracker.
I have a feeling that Mr. Collins never read E.T.A. Hoffman's (sic) original story, (it was Hoffmann, not Hoffman as is indicated by Mr. Collins), even though Mr. Collins recounts it. All in all, he makes some very erroneous comments about that story.
For the last 30 years or so, it has been a family tradition to read Hoffmann's story in English and in German during the month of December. We use "E.T.A. Hoffmann Nutcracker," Pictures by Maurice Sendak, Translation by Ralph Manheim, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1984, for the English version. For the German, we use "E.T.A. Hoffmann Werke, Zweiter Band," Insel Verlag, 1967. (Manheim did a wonderful job with the translation and, of course, Sendak did outstanding work with the illustrations.)
Mr. Collins writes, "Marie was a child who lived in a home devoid of love." Nonsense.
Then Mr. Collins writes of a "fairy tale that would hardly appeal to anyone except the most cynical of readers." Again, nonsense: the story ends with a "happy ever after" note.
Most of Mr. Collins other comments are stuff and nonsense, stuff and nonsense.
I didn't bother to read any of the other selections.
I would have rated this book with a "no star" rating, but it wouldn't let me....
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