Readers so inclined can celebrate Christmas anytime with this overview of the holiday’s traditions from past to present.
This exploration of Christmas traditions is separated into three chapters, with accounts from the mother-daughter authorial duo’s personal celebrations interspersed throughout. The first chapter follows Christmas’ origins as a non-Christian early midwinter celebration. Readers learn about ancient Rome’s Saturnalia and ancient Greece’s celebration of Dionysus’ birth. Further travels in the Northern Hemisphere introduce readers to Jesus’ birth and the spread of Christianity throughout Europe and beyond. Despite the Puritans’ attempts to cancel Christmas, it “bounces back.” The book’s second chapter then goes on to chronicle the evolution of modern-day Christmas. The third chapter looks at festivities around the world in a smattering of countries in Asia, South America, Central America, Africa, and Oceania. The large, glossy photos (some from the authors’ lives) show a welcome range of racial representation. Sidebars provide some helpful context and interesting asides, including a handful of recipes. The conversational tone is as delightful and jovial as Santa Claus himself. Unfortunately, that results in a rose-colored view of the spread of Christianity, noting that it simply “traveled along with” colonists.
An adequate survey of the holiday in a pretty package, made a bit more special with its personal touches. (glossary, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)