Book details
Lyons Press
Page count:
Electronic Book
10 in x 7 in

Christmas Past

The Fascinating Stories Behind Our Favorite Holiday's Traditions

Joseph Epstein,Brian Earl

About this book

Behind every Christmas tradition is a story — usually, a forgotten one. Each year, as we decorate a tree, build a gingerbread house, and get ready for a visit from St. Nicholas, we’re continuing generations-old narratives, while being largely unaware of their starting chapters. But knowing how these traditions began adds a new level of depth to our Christmas spirit, as well as an arsenal of anecdotes to share at Christmas parties. Christmas Past: The Fascinating Stories Behind Our Favorite Holiday’s Traditions reveals the surprising, quirky, mysterious, and sometimes horrifying stories behind the most wonderful time of the year. With 26 short chapters, it’s a festive, digestible Advent calendar of a book. Covering traditions ancient and modern, Christmas Past is filled with stories of happy accidents, cultural histories, criminal capers (including tomb raiders and con artists), and hidden connections between Christmas and broader social, economic, and technological influences. How did the invention of plate glass forever change the Christmas season? What common Christmas item helped introduce fine art to the masses? Why do Americans typically spike their eggnog with rum, rather than the traditional brandy? And speaking of booze, does using the phrase “Merry Christmas” mark you as a drunken reveler? Christmas Past answers all of those questions, and many more.

About this author

Brian Earl is a designer, writer, and podcaster in Silicon Valley. He’s also one of those people who puts up the Christmas tree on Halloween and takes it down on Valentine’s Day. His Christmas Past podcast debuted in 2016 to immediate acclaim. With a storytelling and production style meant to mimic public radio news pieces, the podcast features expert guests and listener-submitted Christmas memories, all in bite-sized, 10- to 15-minute episodes. Brian has either been interviewed, or the podcast has received mention, in Vanity Fair, Modern Woman/USA Today, The Financial Times, Best Life, Bustle, Huffington Post, PopSugar, and many other local and national media outlets. Brian has also been a frequent freelance contributor to The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, and several other Boston-area publications.