09 December 2015
Christmas Worldwide, Cathy C. Tucker
I have several "Christmas Around the World" books, but this is my first that was written in a year not beginning with "19." In fact, all of them (except for the individual "World Book" "Christmas in..." books) are from the 1940s/1950s, and it's reading this one that clearly illustrates how Christmas celebrations have changed over the years, not just in the United States, but all over the globe.
For instance, one change I noticed first in Rick Steves' European Christmas, where they show the Swiss Christmas gift-giver as "Samichlaus." In all the older books I have, the Christkindl delivers the gifts in Switzerland. In just fifty years, the Santa Claus celebration has transferred itself to yet another country. It's interesting—yet sad—to see how Americanized holiday celebrations have become around the world, overwhelming local customs. Also, many of the author's sources have now come from web pages rather than totally from books as in my older volumes.
This is not the most lyrically written book I've ever read. Most of the facts are presented in a cut-and-dried manner in short, precise sentences. Due to that, it lacks the warmth that some other Christmas books contain. However, it's still an intriguing trip around the world from Antigua to Wales, from the tales of unusual Christmas meals in Australia to celebrations of St. Thomas' Day before Christmas in Belgium to how Canadian festivities changed from customs particular to the frontier to celebrations similar to those in Great Britain, from tropical Christmases in Cuba to freezing ones in Denmark, Christmas in countries with long histories of Christmas customs and in countries like Somalia where Christmas is celebrated by only a tiny minority. Its also interesting to see which countries share similar celebrations, like Germany/Holland/Switzerland/Hungary's St. Nicholas Day festivities.
So, interesting, but don't expect sparkling prose.