The Battle for Christmas: A Social and Cultural History of Our Most Cherished Holiday

Stephen Nissenbaum

Nissenbaum’s 1997 book redefined the study of the history of Christmas in America. He portrays a group of New York writers in the early 19th century worried about rowdy, alcohol-fueled Christmas celebrations among the lower orders. By turning the Dutch version of St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, into Santa Claus, they brought Christmas indoors, reorienting it around family and children.

How the Movies Saved Christmas: 228 Rescues from Clausnappers, Sleigh Crashes, Lost Presents and Holiday Disasters

William D. Crump

The colonization of Christmas by the film industry has made movies and TV shows central to our seasonal observances. Crump shows the cinematic holiday being “rescued” from threats like villains taking the North Pole, Santa’s incapacity, or people “losing the Christmas spirit.” There is a special place in Hollywood hell for Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Toward the Origins of Christmas

Susan K. Roll

Why did the early church mark the Nativity of Jesus on December 25? Roll examines two main hypotheses—the calculation theory and the history of religions theory—and shows the weaknesses of the latter. Christmas, it seems, owes its place on the calendar not to anything connected with pagan holidays or the winter solstice but rather to arcane computations surrounding the dates of the Crucifixion and Incarnation.

The Journey of the Magi: Meanings in History of a Christian Story

Richard C. Trexler

Matthew’s gospel account of Magi arriving to worship the infant Jesus has given birth to centuries of legends about those mysterious “three kings.” Trexler’s The Journey ...

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