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Christmas History Lessons

Jennifer Czepiel

Books to Read and Learn About the Holidays

With so many differing opinions on how to celebrate the Christmas holiday, what do historians say? Here are a few books that cover the facts behind the fantasy and whimsy of one of the most popular holidays of the year. Unwrap some history before the gifts under the tree, and have some great conversation starters at the Christmas dinner table.

Christmas: A Candid History by Bruce David Forbes
This practical guide to some of the most common holiday traditions and where they derived from can be found in this candid look at the Christmas season. Bruce David Forbes offers readers of all ages a peek into the past and some of the more bizarre histories of the origins of Christmas. Great as a coffee table book for guests, or as something to read out loud by the fire while sipping cocoa. The whole family can learn something on the holiday school break.

The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum
Who were the first ones to wage a war on Christmas? Some may be shocked to learn it was the Puritans of colonial America. With traditions deeply rooted in Pagan practices, the deeply devout Puritans were outraged by the common celebrations of winter holidays. Learn how these early Christians felt there was no place for Christmas and its revelry. This surprising history will have readers questioning the history of Christmas’s coming to America.

Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide by Christian Ratsch
If you are looking for a history even further back than the Miracles on Thirty-Fourth Street or the Night Before Christmas’s of Clement C. Moore, check out this dive into the Pagan roots of some of our modern holiday traditions. Pagan Christmas reaches across time and oceans to bring out the stories of Yuletide logs, midnight rides over the sky by ancient gods, and how the festival of lights once looked more like Halloween trick or treat shenanigans.

Cozy up by the fire as you and your family enjoy some of these enlightening trips into history. As you read maybe you will also ask about some of the traditions built by the generations of your family.

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