27 November 2006

CHRISTMAS BOOK REVIEW: The Christmas Tree Book

Back in November of 2003, I reviewed this book by Phillip V. Snyder; I had first read it from the library.

I also had read the library's copy of The Christmas Tree Book some time ago, and when I discovered I could purchase it used—since it's out of print, used is the best you can do—for $1 online, I immediately snapped it up.

Snyder again uses magazines and newspapers of the era (when possible, since he goes back to the 15th century) to trace the history of the Christmas tree and its two important festoons, the ornaments and the lights. This includes a fascinating section on the Christmas cookies that were used to decorate the tree, the story of how the Germans' tabletop tree became the floor-to-ceiling American variety, and the trend from candles to "lighting outfits" (do you know that one of the things that caused the decline of the Christmas tree candle was the refusal of insurance companies to honor policies if the fire was caused by a "known danger," i.e. tipped candles on the tree?). Snyder even talks about the rather unsavory conditions under which those beautiful kugels and other German ornaments were created back when Frank Woolworth first encountered them to bring them to the U.S. If you are interested in the history of Christmas tree ornaments or decorating, this book is definitely worth hunting up. Comes with dozens of photos (both black and white and color) of vintage Christmas tree ornaments.

No comments: