Black Friday. The War on Christmas. Miracle on 34th Street and Elf. From shopping malls and Fox News to movie theaters, Christmas no longer solely celebrates to the birth of Christ. Considering the holiday in its global context, Christmas journeys from its historical origins to its modern incarnation as a global commercial event, stopping along the way to look at the controversies and traditions of the celebratory day. Delving into the long story of this unifying but also divisive holiday, Tara Moore describes the evolution of Christmas and the deep traditions that bind a culture to its version of it. She probes the debates that have long accompanied the season—from questions of the actual date of Christ’s birth to frictions between the sacred and the secular—and discusses the characters associated with the holiday’s celebration, including Saint Nicholas, the Magi, Scrooge, and Krampus. She also explores how customs such as Christmas trees, feasting, and gift giving first emerged and became central facets of the holiday, while also examining how Christmas has been portrayed in culture—from the literary works of Charles Dickens to the yearly bout of holiday films, television specials, traditional carols, and modern tracks. Ultimately, Moore reveals, Christmas’s longevity has depended on its ability to evolve. Packed with illustrations, Christmas is a fascinating look at the holiday we only think we know.
Reader in Theology & Religious Studies Christopher Deacy
Author: Reader in Theology & Religious Studies Christopher Deacy
Publisher: Oxford University Press
In Christmas as Religion, Christopher Deacy explores the premise that religion plays an elementary role in our understanding of the Christmas festival, but takes issue with much of the existing literature which is inclined to limit the contours and parameters of "religion" to particular representations and manifestations of institutional forms of Christianity. "Religion" is often tacitly identified as having an ecclesiastical frame of reference, so that if the Church is not deemed to play a central role in the practice of Christmas for many people today then it can legitimately be side-lined and relegated to the periphery of any discussion relating to what Christmas "means." Deacy argues that such approaches fail to take adequate stock of the manifold ways in which people's beliefs and values take shape in modern society. For example, Christmas films or radio programmes may comprise a non-specifically Christian, but nonetheless religiously rich, repository of beliefs, values, sentiments and aspirations. Therefore, this book makes the case for laying to rest the secularization thesis, with its simplistic assumption that religion in Western society is undergoing a period of escalating and irrevocable erosion, and to see instead that the secular may itself be a repository of the religious. Rather than see Christmas as comprising alternative or analogous forms of religious expression, or dependent on any causal relationship to the Christian tradition, Deacy maintains that it is religious per se, and, moreover, it is its very secularity that makes Christmas such a compelling, and even transcendent, religious holiday.
The Sacred Santa is an inquiry into the religious dimension of postmodern culture, seriously considering the widespread perception that contemporary culture witnesses a profound struggle between two antithetical systems -- a collision of two worlds, both religious, yet each with vivid visions of the sacred that differ radically with regard to what the sacred is and what it means to human life and social endeavor.
How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought
Author: John Gibson
Category: Political Science
Argues that the secularization of Christmas violates the free expression of Christian traditions and contradicts the intentions of America's founders, in an account that cites state and corporate rulings against the practice of certain traditions.
Associate Professor of American Religious History and Culture Gary Laderman
And a Call for Parents to Fight for the Arts in Public Schools
Author: Teresa deBarba-Miller
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Category: Social Science
"In the PREFACE to PART 2, deBarba Miller shares her thoughts on how the arts should be given more focus in schools and learning institutions across the nation. 'I honestly believe that a proper arts program in schools should emphasize, rather than minimize, the knows arts as well as creative skills,' she explained. 'I also believe that exposure to the arts, which incorporate environmental studies, advances our students into thinking, imaginative human beings in every regard'. By turns timely and timeless, SANTA CLAUS IN THE LAUGHING VALLEY allows young readers to let their imagination wander and wonder, making way for a new generation of innovators and artists".
Shantideva and the Power of Compassion to Transform Your Life
Author: David Michie
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Category: Body, Mind & Spirit
The Dalai Lama always recommends a classic text by the Buddhist master Shantideva as essential reading for those seeking a practical approach to Buddhism. With its life-changing teachings and transcendent wisdom, it is one of the world's great spiritual treasures. In Enlightenment to Go, David Michie provides a lively, accessible introduction to the 'best of' Shantideva. He shows how the insights of Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life can transform the spiritual well-being of modern day readers, and he unpacks its powerful antidotes to contemporary problems, including stress, anxiety and depression. He also offers a gentle introduction to meditation in order to help readers integrate these transformational insights into daily life. Recounting stories from his own journey, Michie illustrates the relevance of Shantideva's breakthrough teachings to a typically busy Westerner with warmth and humour. Whether you are a newcomer to Buddhism or a seasoned practitioner, Enlightenment To Go offers a glimpse of a radiantly different reality.
The manger or Macy's? Americans might well wonder which is the real shrine of Christmas, as they take part each year in a mix of churchgoing, shopping, and family togetherness. But the history of Christmas cannot be summed up so easily as the commercialization of a sacred day. As Penne Restad reveals in this marvelous new book, it has always been an ambiguous meld of sacred thoughts and worldly actions-- as well as a fascinating reflection of our changing society. In Christmas in America, Restad brilliantly captures the rise and transformation of our most universal national holiday. In colonial times, it was celebrated either as an utterly solemn or a wildly social event--if it was celebrated at all. Virginians hunted, danced, and feasted. City dwellers flooded the streets in raucous demonstrations. Puritan New Englanders denounced the whole affair. Restad shows that as times changed, Christmas changed--and grew in popularity. In the early 1800s, New York served as an epicenter of the newly emerging holiday, drawing on its roots as a Dutch colony (St. Nicholas was particularly popular in the Netherlands, even after the Reformation), and aided by such men as Washington Irving. In 1822, another New Yorker named Clement Clarke Moore penned a poem now known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," virtually inventing the modern Santa Claus. Well-to-do townspeople displayed a German novelty, the decorated fir tree, in their parlors; an enterprising printer discovered the money to be made from Christmas cards; and a hodgepodge of year-end celebrations began to coalesce around December 25 and the figure of Santa. The homecoming significance of the holiday increased with the Civil War, and by the end of the nineteenth century a full- fledged national holiday had materialized, forged out of borrowed and invented custom alike, and driven by a passion for gift-giving. In the twentieth century, Christmas seeped into every niche of our conscious and unconscious lives to become a festival of epic proportions. Indeed, Restad carries the story through to our own time, unwrapping the messages hidden inside countless movies, books, and television shows, revealing the inescapable presence--and ambiguous meaning--of Christmas in contemporary culture. Filled with colorful detail and shining insight, Christmas in America reveals not only much about the emergence of the holiday, but also what our celebrations tell us about ourselves. From drunken revelry along colonial curbstones to family rituals around the tree, from Thomas Nast drawing the semiofficial portrait of St. Nick to the making of the film Home Alone, Restad's sparkling account offers much to amuse and ponder.
Written for everyone who loves and is simultaneously driven crazy by the holiday season, Christmas: A Candid History provides an enlightening, entertaining perspective on how the annual Yuletide celebration got to be what it is today. In a fascinating, concise tour through history, the book tells the story of Christmas—from its pre-Christian roots, through the birth of Jesus, to the holiday's spread across Europe into the Americas and beyond, and to its mind-boggling transformation through modern consumerism. Packed with intriguing stories, based on research into myriad sources, full of insights, the book explores the historical origins of traditions including Santa, the reindeer, gift giving, the Christmas tree, Christmas songs and movies, and more. The book also offers some provocative ideas for reclaiming the joy and meaning of this beloved, yet often frustrating, season amid the pressures of our fast-paced consumer culture. DID YOU KNOW For three centuries Christians did not celebrate Christmas? Puritans in England and New England made Christmas observances illegal? St. Nicholas is an elf in the famous poem "The Night Before Christmas"? President Franklin Roosevelt changed the dateof Thanksgiving in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season? Coca-Cola helped fashion Santa Claus's look in an advertising campaign?