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Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  175 Ratings  ·  41 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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Dec 21, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 26, 2009 Shannon rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2009
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
Nov 24, 2015 Regina rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the historical accounts in detail, which is why I chose this book. However, it became preachy and lessened the enjoyment of the book. For example, the author sates: "Empty stockings hung at home or unsold stockings in stores should remind everyone who celebrates the birth of Christ to search for ways to make the season bright for others who have not been blessed." So, if you're looking to learn some history, you may find something here as it is told in an appealing manner. But, if you ...more
Orville Jenkins
Dec 27, 2014 Orville Jenkins rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 23, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 11, 2009 Sherry rated it liked it
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.
Jan 03, 2011 Ron rated it liked it
Decent explanations but unfortunately, no sources even mentioned. You have to take his statements on faith.
Jan 11, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
Interesting history of Christmas traditions. No sources cited.
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
Jan 02, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it
Really interesting read on various traditions of Christmas. It helped me during Advent to reflect on the various sources of mainstream Christmas traditions today. Traditions have come, gone (sometimes for very good reasons), and been revived (often for noble reasons, but helpful to know why perhaps they were phased out).
Diana Waldron
Feb 07, 2015 Diana Waldron rated it liked it
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
♥Robin ♥
Apr 07, 2016 ♥Robin ♥ rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-read
Although I did enjoy reading this book, I am left wondering where the author got his information. There's no bibliography or sources cited as to where the information came from.
Feb 20, 2015 Janey rated it really liked it
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
Dec 28, 2015 Ken rated it liked it
Ace Collins provides a wealth of material in a popular, accessible format. I appreciated his positive attitude toward the traditions, despite some having pagan origins. The history student in me wanted references and more dates, but most people will find this a quick, easy, informative read.
Angie Libert
Dec 28, 2015 Angie Libert rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas
I completed this book through Chapter 9. Maybe I will read more of it next Christmas season!
Rob Coyle
Jan 06, 2015 Rob Coyle rated it really liked it
Great book. Short chapters covering the origins of the many traditions of Christmas.
Nov 07, 2014 Traveler411 rated it it was ok
I agree with other reviews. Interesting, but no footnotes, just faith.
Jan 13, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
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
Nov 19, 2014 Michelle Bodle rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity, advent
History behind some of the most well loved Christmas traditions
Dec 13, 2015 Tami rated it liked it
Shelves: christmas
26 short chapters telling the stories behind our popular Christmas traditions.
Brendan Murphy
Feb 25, 2015 Brendan Murphy rated it liked it
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
Dec 13, 2010 Laura rated it liked it
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.
Nov 15, 2012 K.E. rated it did not like it
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 about doing some true research and expanding on these traditions. On well.
Apr 07, 2010 Patrick rated it it was amazing
"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.
Apr 27, 2009 Janet rated it really liked it
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!
Dec 29, 2013 Deanna rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 01, 2010 Sandra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christmas
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.
Dec 28, 2012 Betsy rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2010 Dave Jones rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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.
Jan 07, 2010 April rated it really liked it
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.
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