11 November 2008

CHRISTMAS BOOKS REVIEW: The Life Book of Christmas

This is actually in three volumes, published in 1963. It originally came in a slipcover and probably looked quite grand. I bought my copy off eBay and it has become quite battered in the intervening 45 years (of course, I've become quite battered in the intervening 45 years myself! LOL).

The first volume is The Glory of Christmas, which illustrates the story of Jesus from the prophecies of the Old Testament to the original spread of Christianity. These volumes are mostly illustrated, and this one has some magnificent reproductions of medieval and Renaissance art. There is narrative, and some small stories and poetry in each section as well. The second volume, The Pageantry of Christmas, is illustrated with paintings, tapestries, woodcuts, drawings, and finally photos that trace the history of the Christmas celebration from the early Christians to ethnic customs brought to American from other countries. Touched on are St. Nicholas and the conversion of Christmas from a drunken feast to a family-oriented holiday.

The third volume, The Merriment of Christmas, brings the volumes to modern times. There are recipes, of course, as well as some Christmas crafts, a Christmas play, suggestions of old-fashioned games, and some literary selections, including Christopher Morley's "The Tree That Didn't Get Trimmed" and a humorous selection by Robert Benchley about Christmas feasts in the 1880s.

A nice collection for your Christmas library, but nothing essential.

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