Authors & Events
Oct 28, 1997
| ISBN 9780679740384
Dec 01, 2010
| ISBN 9780307760227
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Oct 28, 1997 | ISBN 9780679740384
Dec 01, 2010 | ISBN 9780307760227
Anyone who laments the excesses of Christmas might consider the Puritans of colonial Massachusetts: they simply outlawed the holiday. The Puritans had their reasons, since Christmas was once an occasion for drunkenness and riot, when poor “wassailers extorted food and drink from the well-to-do. In this intriguing and innovative work of social history, Stephen Nissenbaum rediscovers Christmas’s carnival origins and shows how it was transformed, during the nineteenth century, into a festival of domesticity and consumerism. Drawing on a wealth of period documents and illustrations, Nissenbaum charts the invention of our current Yuletide traditions, from St. Nicholas to the Christmas tree and, perhaps most radically, the practice of giving gifts to children. Bursting with detail, filled with subversive readings of such seasonal classics as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and A Christmas Carol, The Battle for Christmas captures the glorious strangeness of the past even as it helps us better understand our present.
Stephen Nissenbaum received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1961, his M.A. from Columbia University in 1963, and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1968. He has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst since 1968, and is… More about Stephen Nissenbaum
“Fascinating.” –The New York Times Book Review “Christmas . . . too often fails to wholly satisfy the spirit or the senses. How and why the yuletide came to this is the subject of historian Stephen Nissenbaum’s fascinating new study. “ –Newsweek
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