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216 × 138 × 22 mm
224 pages
85 illustrations, 50 in colour
01 Sep 2014
  • £20.00

  • This edition is currently unavailable

Christmas The Sacred to Santa Tara Moore

Christmas falls on 25 December with faithful inevitability. Indeed, our entire Western system of time is based upon it. It may seem as though it has always been this way, but like many facets of the holiday’s history, the date of Christ’s birth contains a complex story wrapped in controversy. Despite the deep traditions that bind each culture to its own version of Christmas – the pageantry, food and folklore – the longevity of the holiday has always depended on its ability to adapt. 

Christmas: The Sacred to Santa takes us on a journey from the day’s historical origins to its modern incarnation as a global commercial event, even taking in non-Christian nations such as China, Japan and North Korea. Along the way we encounter a vast array of religious personages, fictional characters and mythic figures that have become associated with its celebration, from St Nicholas to the Magi, Scrooge and the Krampus. Tara Moore explores how the great traditions such as Christmas trees, feasting and gift-giving emerged, as well as how Christmas has been portrayed in culture, from the literary works of Charles Dickens to the now annual bout of films and seasonal music – including traditional carols and the latest Christmas-themed chart hits.

Christmas in its global context is a unifying but also divisive event, with tension between the sacred and the secular. Enchanting and compelling, this book reintroduces us to the holiday we only think we know.

‘An informative and intriguing page-turner. If there is anything to be known about Christmas, you will find it here.’ — Catholic San Francisco

Christmas: The Sacred to Santa [is] vast in scale . . . well referenced and providing plenty of fruitful channels for further investigation.’ — Quote

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Tara Moore teaches on the writing programme at Penn State York and is the author of Victorian Christmas in Print (2009).


1. The Original Christmas

2. Early Celebrations and Customs

3. Christmas in Art and Culture

4. Christmas Outlawed

5. Christmas Away from Home

6. Commercial Christmas

7. Characters of Christmas

8. The Imported Global Christmas

9. Public Christmas

10. Christmas and the Church


Further Reading
Photo Acknowledgements