19 Nov 2010


As I expected I'm once again having terrible difficulties sourcing the SEASONAL BOOKS I had mentioned hoping to get - normally very good, our library services seems to be woefully inadequate when it comes to this type of reading material and I was only able to get hold of one book (not on my list) and reserve Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Still, thanks to Vivienne and her post on SUGGESTED READING, which I intend to print and take to the library, perhaps I will be able to get my hands on something.

Anyway, onto book one in this year's Holiday Reading Challenge (for details click HERE) which is hosted by Nely at All About {N} and includes other bloggers such as Mary (Book Fan) and Sharon (Sharon's Garden Of Book Reviews) OR HERE to link up your reviews.

Do You Know?

Why we celebrate Christmas on 25th December? How holly came to be associated with Christmas? When the first Christmas card was sent?

Packed with fascinating and little-known facts about the festive season, The Xmas files unravels the myths and mysteries surrounding Christmas in an enchanting sweep through the history of our favourite time of the year. The nativity story that we all know and love conjures up images of the inn, the stable, shepherds and the three wise men. But could it really have happened that way? Were there more than three wise men? were they really wise or were they astrologers? When could Jesus realistically have been born?Patrick Harding sets the historical record straight on these and other questions as well as delving into the origins of our Christmas ritual - decking the halls with boughs of holly, singing carols, eating turkey and Santa Claus.
...... From the outer back cover.

OPENING SENTENCE: In the 24th century Christmas (Christ's Mass) is a worldwide time of celebration and commercial exploitation shared not only by millions of Christians but by people of other faiths and those of no faith in particular.

MEMORABLE FACT: In parts of Wales, 26 December was commemorated by a strange custom that was only finally outlawed in Victorian times. Holly beating or holming, as it was known in some areas, took the form of men and boys beating the unclothed arms of women servants (or other women considered to be of a lower social class) with holly branches, until their arms bled.

An interesting read, full of information as to how, when and why we celebrate Christmas, The Xmas Files is divided into sections;-
  • The Ones I used to Know covering the origins of Christmas, when Jesus was born, why we celebrate Christmas when we do etc.
  • 1,500 British Christmases. The 'first' Christmases through to Victorian and wartime Christmases and onto more recent times.
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Everything you wanted to know about Santa Claus/Father Christmas and his companions, Rudolph included. I really loved the section that dealt with letters that had been sent.
  • Christmas Customs From the yule log right through to pantomime.
  • The Goose Is Getting Fat. Traditional eats such as the goose, sweet mince pies and Christmas pudding etc.
  • Other Christmas Quirks And Queries. - Why a white Christmas? and other such fascinating, little heard of topics.
Despite the fact that I dislike it when the word Christmas is shortened to Xmas and I thought the cover was somewhat gaudy, there were several things I really liked about this book. The first being the general layout - those section headings made the whole thing seem so concise and accessible but not in a text-book kind of way. Then there was the content in which the author dealt with the subject matter in a really thorough way whilst managing to keep things interesting and then there was that we were reminded that the whole festival had it's origins in pagan celebrations with many customs (the tree, holly etc) dating back to then but most of all I enjoyed the pictures which chronicled the changing faces of Father Christmas dressed in 'TRADITIONAL GREEN' to the 'COCA-COLA' VERSION we typically see today.

A thoroughly interesting and informative read with a few surprising facts up its sleeves, I'd recommend this book to all those who are interested in Christmas in general and to those who are interested in the changing faces of Christmas in particular.


Trac~ said...

Sounds like an interesting read my friend. Thanks for stopping by and for the well wishes. I head to the doctor at 9 a.m. this morning and will let you know how it turns out. Big hugs! xoxoxo

Cozy in Texas said...

I stopped by (from the Hop). This sounds like an interesting book, thanks for the review.
Cozy In Texas

Christina Lee said...

OOOHH I would read this!

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

Hey Tracy,

Send me an email - I have some extra Christmas books I'd be more than willing to share with you!


Misha1989 said...

Apart from The Christmas Carol, I haven't read any Christmas books so thanks for the review!

Nina said...

Sounds like a great challenge. The Goose Is Getting Fat sounds like a hilarious read. ;)

awitchtrying said...

I love to read about holiday origins, they tend to come from a pagan past that's been all but forgotten. I feel your pain at not being able to find the holiday books you're looking for. Last year I desperately wanted to watch either White Christmas or It's a Wonderful Life and couldn't find either one. Good luck in finding the other books you're looking for!

Mary said...

Sounds like a fun resource to have on the coffee table over the holidays for when someone asks about the origins of some of the traditions of Christmas. I may look for this book!

Karen said...

I love these kind of trivia books! On a random note, I'm not sure why I noticed this on today's visit but I see that you started your blog on my birthday!

Patti said...

That would be interesting to read the transformation of Christmas.

Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama said...

This sounds really interesting. Good luck with the challenge. :)

SG said...

Very interesting trivia book. Will read it.

Kelly said...

This one sounds quite interesting!

Our Christmas goose (and our Thanksgiving goose) is rarely fat, though, being wild goose rather than one grown commercially.

Hope you find some more good holiday books!

Suko said...

What a fun sounding book! Perfect to get us in the mood for Christmas. Terrific review, Petty.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Why, may I ask, is holly an important factor in the "greatest time of year" when men beat on woman's arm enough to make them bleed? This does not seem jolly to me.

Jenners said...

This seems like a book right up your alley --- filled with offbeat and intersting factoids. You should feature some throughout the holiday season!

naida said...

This does sound interesting read.
Oh my gosh, holly beating sounds just awful!


Alison said...

Holly beating sounds so weird. I can't imagine why people did it.

GABY said...

Sounds good, I would like to know these interesting facts about Christmas.

And as you said, I also think the cover could have been different.

budh.aaah said...

Holly beating?? OMG!!
I wonder if I'll be able to forget that. But our past is so dark and its interesting to know the origin of just about everything- one never knows what one comes up with

themethatisme said...

Bah! Humbug!

Alexia561 said...

Sounds like a great title! Good luck getting the books you want at the library! It's always disappointing when you can't find what you're looking for, so hope they can get hold of some copies for you.

GMR said...

NOw that does sound like an interesting little read...thanks for the heads up!