02 December 2013
Old Cities and Old Saints
Christmas in Williamsburg, K.M. Kostyal and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
This is a slim volume with glossy paper and lovely photos of Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas, including a few homemade crafts. It's simple enough to be read by a child, so what text there is is about feasting, how decorating for Christmas has changed in the city, and how they would celebrate, depending on social rank and, sadly, race. If you're a Williamsburg fan like me, you'll love the volume, but really, buy this used. It's really pricey.
Postcards from Santa Claus, Robert C. Hoffmann
This is a wonderful little volume chronicling the history of Santa Claus via postcards sent from the beginning of the Golden age of Postcards, 1880, through the publication of the book in 2002. Even back in 1880, the Victorian Santa was a spokesman for all sorts of products, but back then he was still an elfin figure, or even had some of the attributes of his forebear, St. Nicholas. There are postcards from both the U.S. and from Europe, and cards made and sent during World Wars I and II, so you meet not only Santa, but his "foreign relations," Father Christmas and Peré Noel and St. Nicholas, plus Santas in aircraft and those "newfangled motorcars" and even using an early wireless set. Between the illustrations Hoffmann offers small bits of information about the good Saint.
I found this book by accident, but am glad I did. The old postcards are fascinating and one of the messages will definitely give you a laugh.