Booklist Reviews

Christmas evokes both memories of the past and expectations for future celebrations, but Flanders (The Making of Home, 2015) posits that the holiday never was the quiet, thoughtful, religious observance we think it was. Separating fact from myth and traditional practice, Flanders provides a well-researched "biography" of how Christmas came to be observed through the ages and in various cultures. Elements of celebration included feasting, attending plays (both sacred and profane), and participating in revelry like the disguise-wearing mummers' parades. Her rambling study includes historical and popular culture references, so readers can expect to learn more about Saint Nicholas of Myra, understood to be the precursor to Santa Claus, along with movies like Holiday Inn and It's a Wonderful Life. Gift-giving traditions and the origins of gift wrapping are just two of many highlights in the book. Extensive and highly readable footnotes and end notes make this a pleasurable read. A calendar of important holidays is included, and readers are directed to more resources online. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

New York Times best-selling historian and author of the LibraryReads pick mystery series starring Samantha "Sam" Clair, Flanders documents Christmas as celebration, from an early pope's complaints about excess holiday cheer to the first holiday parade (not Macy's!).

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Flanders (The Making of Home) dispenses with cherished trappings and traditions in this investigation of Christmas, drawing a short line from Christmas's religious origins to its secular celebration. She begins by reporting on the ecclesiastical warning against excessive frivolity, which was issued by the Archbishop of Constantinople only 30 years after Christmas became a church festival in the late fourth century. Then she makes the case that Christianity slowly made itself a consumer product. Mythologizing Christmas by selling it, she argues, didn't start with the miniature ceramic Christmas villages of the 1970s or Coca-Cola ads in the '30s or even department store parades of the '20s, but has been a slowly building process that began almost as soon as Christmas became a widely practiced tradition. Although Flanders's voice sometimes disappears amid the cascade of facts, her well-structured argument lays to rest the idea that the celebration of Christmas is solely religious. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.