Thursday, November 29, 2018

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas - Review

The fascinating stories and origins behind Christmas traditions such as the colors of red and green, the Christmas tree, caroling, nativity scenes, the Yule log, gift-giving, stockings, advent wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
The cheer of a crackling hearth fire. Colorful cards from friends and loved ones. An evergreen tree festooned with ornaments. The golden traditions of Christmas—gifts, wreaths, stockings, carols, mistletoe, and more—infuse our celebration of the season with meaning and glowing memories. And, in ways you may not realize, they point us to the birth of Christ. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas reveals the people, places, and events that shaped the best-loved customs of this merriest of holidays. Here are spiritual insights, true-life tales, and captivating legends to intrigue you and your family and bring new luster and depth to your celebration of Jesus’ birth. 
The traditions of Christmas lend beauty, awe, and hope to the holiday, causing people all over the world to anticipate it with joy. The stories in this book will warm your heart as you rediscover the true and eternal significance of Christmas.
Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas
By Ace Collins

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas is an engaging look at the most beloved traditions of Christmas. I love history, and what could be more interesting that learning the stories behind our Christmas traditions?

I was very pleased with how Mr. Collins would share the legends and folklore behind each tradition, and then bring it forward into the traditions we recognize today. He is quick to point out that these legends are just that, a legend and not a known fact. In some cases he shared more than one folklore, as each country would have varying legends behind the same tradition.

One fact that I did not know and found to be surprising was that in England and America Christmas was not a time for families and holy reflection until the mid-1800's. While other European countries, such as Germany, celebrated Christmas as a time for families, England and America celebrated quite differently!

A few of my favorite chapters were:

Christmas Cards: The story of a busy English Knight who sent out an artistic Christmas card rather than the usual Christmas letter. His first Christmas cards snowballed into a beloved tradition.

Christmas Seals: This story of generosity and love that began in Denmark, but eventually spread to the US was truly inspirational. I was touched how one man's heart of compassion impacted so many suffering with tuberculosis.

Decorations and Ornaments: I loved learning the stories behind how ornaments were originally made and used. It was interesting to read of the progression from simple handmade ornaments to blown glass ornaments and eventually factory made ornaments. It was also surprising to see how world events played a part in the changes of how ornaments were made.

Lights: I had often heard the story of Martin Luther adding candles to his Christmas tree, but I was equally enthralled by the history of electric  Christmas lights! Edward Johnson, an employee of Thomas Edison, made quite an impression on New York City when he displayed his Christmas tree, decked out in electric lights, for all to see in the front window of his home.

Poinsettias: Poinsettias had an unusual and at times a rather unpleasant history in Mexico for many years. It wasn't until the 1800's that poinsettias were introduced to America. A Mr. Poinsett brought back seeds from the flowers after a political trip to Mexico. The circumstances surrounding his trip and return, as well as Mr. Poinsett's personality were amusing to read about.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: At a time when Catholicism was banned in England the Catholic church wrote this beloved Christmas carol. Each day represents a Biblical principle, for example the Trinity, the fruits of the Spirit, the ten commandments, etc.

There are a total of twenty-six chapter in Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, so there is much to learn and enjoy in this little volume! Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas is hardcover and would make a lovely gift.

My only caveat would be the authors subtle chiding of Christians who do not celebrate the tradition of Santa Claus with his apparent enthusiasm. I was intrigued to read about the real life Saint Nicholas and King Wenceslas. I think their good deeds are worth remembering, however I personally just don't believe they are still alive and traveling the globe once yearly. : )

With all that said I would definitely recommend this book, and it is one that I am sure we will enjoy for many years to come.

*I received a complimentary copy of Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas from Book Look Blogger in exchange for my honest review*


  1. Oh Sarah, this sounds like a delightful book! I just went to CBD to see if they have it and they do...I'm thinking I would thoroughly enjoy reading it during the Christmas season. Thank you for the review.

    Have a blessed weekend. Hugs!

  2. I enjoy books like this. I've read many Christmas books over the years.

  3. Your review really made me want to look this book up! We have it in our store -- an older edition (blue ink print and neat line drawings) as well as a more recent edition (red cover). I purchased the older one and I know I'll enjoy reading it this season. Thanks for your enticing review!


  4. Dear Sarah, I liked your blog a lot, and I admire all the work you do. First of all, I wanted to tell you to excuse my English, I just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about Christmas here in Spain. We also celebrate the arrival of Father Noel, but what we celebrate the most as the Bible says, is the arrival of their Majesties the Magi of the East, since they were the ones who brought their gifts to the Child Jesus, and in my country they are they who truly deliver the gifts to all the children on January 6th. Receive a big hug, and do not stop showing us your cooking recipes, your sewing and your masters to our Lord. MÂȘ del Carmen