This book attempts to look at all aspects of the festival of Christmas, starting with the problems of the dating of Jesus' birth to the modern Christmas in Japan being a twentieth century 'holiday of consumption'.
The celebrations surrounding the winter solstice have always existed even before the 'Christmas' of Christianity, and these are covered too. How easily all of these gift-giving and gluttony traditions have been absorbed into Christmas by just about every culture. All the features are there: Christmas trees, tinsel, cards, Charles Dickens, Yule, carolling, turkey, elves and Santa Claus. The history and folklore, what was allowed and what wasn't.
The book is packed with facts and theories with appropriate sketches and makes a good reference bank. With this in mind it would be better if each of the thirteen chapters had a title showing what was contained within it instead of a number. It would also have made a change from the usual historical Christmas books if cultures outside of Europe and America had been included more significantly. Besides the final chapter covering Japan, there is very little about African and South American traditions, for example, and they have large Christian populations.
Written like a text book this is a brilliant source of information.
Published by Picador on 1 November 2018.