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Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas (Stories Behind Books) Hardcover – September 29, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Stories Behind Books
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; First Edition edition (September 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310248809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310248804
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Collins serves up some little-known holiday history in this interesting book that teems with Christmas facts and legends, arranged alphabetically by topic. Readers will be fascinated to learn, for example, that the holiday shopping season used to be only a couple of weeks long, but was extended during WWII so families could get care packages off to soldiers in a timely fashion. Or that St. Francis of Assisi was one of the first people to use a live nativity scene to teach others about Christ's birth. Collins tackles customs such as Christmas gifts and cards, and the popularity of cultural events like the Nutcracker and the Messiah (which, intriguingly, fell entirely out of fashion in the decades after Handel's death). There are chapters on the history of holly, mistletoe, Christmas trees, candy canes, poinsettias, yule logs, stockings and-of course - Santa Claus.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Collins serves up some little-known holiday history in this interesting book that teems with Christmas facts and legends, arranged alphabetically by topic. Readers will be fascinated to learn, for example, that the holiday shopping season used to be only a couple of weeks long, but was extended during WWII so families could get care packages off to soldiers in a timely fashion. Or that St. Francis of Assisi was one of the first people to use a live nativity scene to teach others about Christ's birth. Collins tackles customs such as Christmas gifts and cards, and the popularity of cultural events like theNutcracker and the Messiah (which, intriguingly, fell entirely out of fashion in the decades after Handel's death). There are chapters on the history of holly, mistletoe, Christmas trees, candy canes, poinsettias, yule logs, stockings and---of course---Santa Claus. (Oct.) -- Publisher’s Weekly

More About the Author

Ace Collins is the writer of more than sixty books, including several bestsellers: Stories behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, The Cathedrals, and Lassie: A Dog's Life. Based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, He continues to publish several new titles each year, including a series of novels, the first of which is Farraday Road. Ace has appeared on scores of television shows, including CBS This Morning, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and Entertainment Tonight.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I like to read Christmas books aloud to the children during December.
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage
This was a great resource for us to use as we put together a Christmas Production revolving around Christmas Carols and traditions.
RodQ
It is really interesting to read so much history on this holiday. book is very well written, and includes a lot of information.
DMA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By doctor_beth #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this book, author Ace Collins traces the history behind various popular Christmas traditions, from caroling and ornaments to mistletoe and yule logs. Collins provides various theories on the origins of each tradition, some of which date back to even before Christ's birth. He also does a nice job of explaining the rise in popularity of each activity as it moved into the mainstream of Christmas celebrations. Finally, the book carries a strong Christian message, as Collins talks about connecting each modern tradition back to its original roots in commemorating Christ's birth. This is a perfect little book to teach children about the history behind Christmas or for adults looking to find greater meaning in this much-commercialized holiday.
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44 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Bill Egan on December 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
How does Ace Collins manage to slap together a bunch of fairytales and call it history? His book on Christmas carols has a totally fictitious account of the history of "Silent Night" and this Christmas book has a completely fabricated version of the Nativity scene set up by St. Francis of Assisi. Collins wonders if the figures in Francis' Nativity were clay or carved wood. Collins supposes that Francis had figures of shepherds but probably skipped having any animals.

What?!?!?!? According to the two biographers of St. Francis (St. Bonaventure and Thomas of Celano) there were no clay or wooden figures of Mary and Joseph. There were neither shepherds nor kings in the Nativity at Greccio, Italy in 1223. There was a feeding trough (manger), a live ox, and a live ass. According to Thomas, it was beautiful in its simplicity with the manger acting as the altar for the Christmas Mass.

It's time for Ace Collins to do some real research and rewrite his Christmas books instead of foisting fairytales on an unsuspecting public.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Snapp on November 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I really wonder what kind of research Mr. Collins did.

Granted the only selection that I read had to do with the Nutcracker.

I have a feeling that Mr. Collins never read E.T.A. Hoffman's (sic) original story, (it was Hoffmann, not Hoffman as is indicated by Mr. Collins), even though Mr. Collins recounts it. All in all, he makes some very erroneous comments about that story.

For the last 30 years or so, it has been a family tradition to read Hoffmann's story in English and in German during the month of December. We use "E.T.A. Hoffmann Nutcracker," Pictures by Maurice Sendak, Translation by Ralph Manheim, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1984, for the English version. For the German, we use "E.T.A. Hoffmann Werke, Zweiter Band," Insel Verlag, 1967. (Manheim did a wonderful job with the translation and, of course, Sendak did outstanding work with the illustrations.)

Mr. Collins writes, "Marie was a child who lived in a home devoid of love." Nonsense.

Then Mr. Collins writes of a "fairy tale that would hardly appeal to anyone except the most cynical of readers." Again, nonsense: the story ends with a "happy ever after" note.

Most of Mr. Collins other comments are stuff and nonsense, stuff and nonsense.

I didn't bother to read any of the other selections.

I would have rated this book with a "no star" rating, but it wouldn't let me....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Margaret S. Campbell on January 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard about this book on a 700 Club show before Christmas and decided to get it. The book is very informative and fun to read. So many of our traditions about Christmas have been lost with the commercialization of this most holy day and the book helped me to realize where I needed to get back on track.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Norman F. Nelson on January 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my wife's book. She has informed me that the stories/anecdotes are very well written and informative. She stated that if one is interested in the background of theses various traditions and customs about Christmas, they should read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By stardragon on September 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just another tradition that completes the Christmas season is to read Christmas themed stories and the history or traditions of Christmas. Now I don't have to search libraries to find this type of book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H. Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ace Collins has written many, many books (e.g., Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas (Stories Behind Books), More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, 25 Days, 26 Ways to Make This Your Best Christmas Ever, etc.).

He writes in the Introduction to this 2003 book, "Before we brood and protest too much over the ruin of what we think Christmas must have been like in generations long past, we might actually feel encouraged about the season we celebrate today when we consider what Christmas was REALLY like in the days of old."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"By the fourth century, the Roman Empire finally began to convert to Christianity. When this happened, Easter became one of the most celebrated holidays in the realm. Yet as many in the empire came to worship Jesus, the old traditions and holidays continued." (Pg. 13)
"In early sixteenth century Germany, Martin Luther embraced carols, thereby winning over many German Christians to the songs. Luther sang them with his children and encouraged his growing following to come together and sing them as a congregation." (Pg. 49)
"In an effort to bring some of the magic of the evergreen tree into their lives, Vikings would chop down a fir and place it in their homes. Having a tree in the house was said to bring the gift of strength to live through the worst stretches of winter." (Pg.
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