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Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  139 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The cheer of a crackling hearth fire. Colorful cards from friends and loved ones. An evergreen tree festooned with ornaments. The golden traditions of Christmas gifts, wreaths, stockings, carols, mistletoe, and more infuse our celebration of the season with meaning and glowing memories. And, in ways you may not realize, they point us to the birth of Christ. Stories Behind ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 29th 2003 by Zondervan (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Amy
Interesting. Lots of facts (?) I didn't know. The only problem I had, the author didn't put any footnotes or bibliography on where he found the information. Otherwise it would have been 5 stars and a great Christmas gift to give.
Shannon
I've often wondered about the origins of many Christmas traditions. This book provides stories behind many of them. With each tradition, the author ends up saying it should be part of a Christian's holiday celebration, and he finds or assigns some religious significance or moral benefit to each. I really wonder where these stories came from. There's no bibleography, no list of resources, and few specific facts. If you're looking for stories of Christmas, you will find them in this little book, b ...more
Orville Jenkins
Collins surveys the many traditions and practices and myths we celebrate around the Christmas season, telling the story of how each new people who accepted the Gospel celebrated it in light of their previous traditions, and cultural practices and lifestyle in their environment.

Especially helpful was to understand that "Christmas" was never broadly celebrated by churches or by European society at large as a religious celebration. But until the 1800s, in England and America it was a cultural festi
...more
Elizabeth
I really enjoyed reading about the history/traditions of Christmas. I now have a new perspective on several aspects of this amazing holiday. Lots of reviews on this book were bad because the author doesn't list his sources. I agree to a degree. However, much of what he writes about are legends with many different versions/sources. I would definitely like to add this book to my personal library to use as a reference.
Sherry
My biggest problem with this book is that he uses no footnotes as to where he found the information; he could have just made it all up. Other than that, I thought it had some interesting ideas about where our Christmas traditions came from.
Ron
Decent explanations but unfortunately, no sources even mentioned. You have to take his statements on faith.
Stephanie
Interesting history of Christmas traditions. No sources cited.
Sarah
If I'm honest, I just read parts of this book so that I could write this article for my church's newsletter in December 2012:

While looking through the Christmas and Advent books in the church, two books by Ace
Collins caught my interest. Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas explores the
meaning behind Christmas symbols including evergreen trees, poinsettias, candy canes, lights,
and the colors of Christmas. In Stories behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas, Collins shares
the stories b
...more
Diana Waldron
This was moderately interesting, but the writing was vague, the scholarship weak, and the Christian bias overwhelming and offensive. The Trail of Tears is listed as an "accomplishment" of then–Secretary of War Joel Poinsett, as an example. This author should be ashamed, and I frankly can't believe he got this dreck published. I enjoyed learning additional background about various popular aspects of modern Christmas — candy canes, The Nutcracker, mistletoe, and so forth — but I would have much pr ...more
Janey
This book was really interesting. It gave more meaning to even small traditions like colors, trees, lights, etc. I was surprised at how many traditions--that some people criticize for not being centered around Christ--really started centered around Christ; even Santa Clause. Consumerism has mostly geared most of these Christ-centered traditions away from Christ.

What I found most interesting was how and when Christmas really got started. I knew Christ wasn't really born in the Winter, so I had al
...more
Rob Coyle
Great book. Short chapters covering the origins of the many traditions of Christmas.
Traveler411
I agree with other reviews. Interesting, but no footnotes, just faith.
Rebecca
A very fun read about our traditions. I highly recommend it to anyone. My ONLY nit about this book is there is no bibliography, are no footnotes, are no sources listed. He does mention a couple of ancient authors in passing, but the text is not mentioned, only the author. I would have loved to look up some of these!
Michelle Bodle
History behind some of the most well loved Christmas traditions
Brendan Murphy
Feb 25, 2015 Brendan Murphy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dan Werthman
It's an interesting book and gives you some food for thought on how the various Christmas traditions developed. However as others have said, there are no references for where the information came from to construct the historical narratives that Collins provides. That leaves me questioning the historical accuracies of it's claims. I'd say this book is a good place to start if you were looking for some background on various Christmas traditions, but you'd probably need to look elsewhere for more a ...more
Laura
Found this on the "holiday books" display at the library. It was interesting to read about how many of our Christmas traditions came to be. I did feel like he was reaching at times to find a Christian connection to every one. (The book is published by Zondervan.) Even traditions he acknowledged to be wholly secular still "help us feel happy and isn't that the point of Christmas?" (Or something like that.) A bit much at times but still interesting.
K.E.
There is a lot I could say about this book but it ultimately boils down to the main irritation: No Bibliography. Site your damn sources, Collins. It's not to say that the information is all together fiction but I feel Collins simply ran with the myths and legends we as a society have halfheartedly accepted...how about doing some true research and expanding on these traditions. On well.
Patrick
"STORIES BEHIND THE GREAT TRADITIONS OCHRISTMAS" by Ace Collinsis well researched and very informative.For example, Did you know that F. W. Wollworths was the first company to give a Christmas bonus to it's employees. Grover Cleveland was the first President to have electric lights on the White House Tree. You will dicover these and many more facts about Christmas in this great book.
Dichotomy Girl
DNF at about 20%. Christmas is over, and I no longer seem to care. Maybe I'll pick this up again next December.
Janet
Enjoying learning the history of Christmas as we know it.

4-27-09 update.

I have not been on goodreads in a long time apparently.

I did post the 12 days of Christmas on my blog.

This would be a good book to read again next year as a reminder of the origins of our Christmas traditions.

Liked it a lot!
Deanna
This book is VERY interesting. I really liked learning about all of the traditions we have for Christmas came about. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn something new.
Sandra
Ever wonder why we do some of the traditions we cherish at Christmas? This is a great resource on the "why" of the things we do. I really love learning about how things began and this book answered a lot of my questions.

I recommend this book.
Betsy
A really great collection of the history of some of the popular Christmas traditions. I really enjoyed learning how Christmas "things" came to be. Christmas trees, wreaths, movies, carols, and more are touched upon.
Dave Jones
Very readable book. My major criticism is that the author does not specify any sources used in his research. As a result, the reader does not have much assurance about the accuracy of the info.
April
Very interesting! I like Collins' approach and explanations. I think he's really done his research and still not become cynical about Christmas. I understand it in a new way. Easy read.
Jackie
I love picking up this book during Advent season and being reminded why we DO what we DO and yet being reminded to keep our eyes on the WHY, and more importantly the WHO.
Norma
I was looking for pagan traditions the Christians use in celebrating the season now. Was not a terrible book, just not what I was looking for.
Lisa
It was really interesting, and I had a great time informing (and annoying...) my husband with all of the background of Christmas traditions. :)
Nancy
Dec 26, 2010 Nancy is currently reading it
This is a must read. I'm having fun reading about how all these things got started. Many of my questions have been answered in this book.
Doti
Christian perspective, but interesting details on where traditions started and how they've been carried forward.
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