Book Review – Christmas: A Biography

Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders (Picador) ISBN: 978-1-5098-3360-3


Christmas, to many born into a typical Christian household, was thought to be based on a specific religious event. The merriment, overeating, presents and Santa Claus were by-products created to make the day a little less serious for all.  That was my thinking. This book proved me wrong on many fronts.

Starting with the Gospels of Luke and Matthew right through to the twentieth century when a story called ‘The Shop of Ghosts’ mentions an ‘old and broken’ white-bearded proprietor who confides in his patrons that he is dying, Judith Flanders shows us that Christmas has ebbed, flowed, and morphed from so many different cultures and traditions across Old and New Worlds. In fact, the most profound changes in the celebration of Christmas accompanied the four great revolutions of the modern period.

Judith Flanders certainly did her homework and one can see it in the detail within Christmas A Biography. The Notes section is 62 pages to provide all the references you could possibly need, should you be into the absolute detail. I did wonder if there might have been a more entertaining way to connect all the dots as this was not the easiest read.

I enjoyed all the stories that make up the journey of Christmas and will use these snippets at the next Christmas event I go to.

Tamaryn McPherson

Posted on: 10th July 2018