Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas Paperback


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$15.25 $0.01
Paperback
"Please retry"
$58.95 $1.16

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Big Spring Books
Editors' Picks in Spring Releases
Ready for some fresh reads? Browse our picks for Big Spring Books to please all kinds of readers.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Quest Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0835608344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0835608343
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This beautiful illustrated book by Celtic and Arthurian folklorist John Matthews (Classic Celtic Fairy Tales, LJ 1/98) presents the history of modern Christmas rituals. Trying to combat the commercialization of Christmas, Matthews explains how the solstice is celebrated around the world and how the dates of Christmas are different in different cultures. He discusses the traditions of Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, and others, including mention of a short story featuring Santa Claus's evil twin, Bob. Also included is information on the Twelve Days of Christmas, solstice animals, and celebrations. Each engagingly written chapter contains a celebration for readers to try themselves. Highly recommended for public libraries and undergraduate collections emphasizing folklore, sociology, and religion.AGail Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology Lib., Freeville, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

JOHN MATTHEWS HAS BEEN A PROFESSIONAL WRITER SINCE 1980 AND HAS PRODUCED OVER FORTY BOOKS ON THE ARTHURIAN LEGENDS, ESOTERIC WISDOM, AND THE GRAIL, AS WELL AS NUMEROUS SHORT STORIES AND A VOLUME OF POETRY. HE AND HIS WIFE CAITLIN CO-AUTHORED A PIONEERING STUDY OF THE WESTERN MYSTERY TRADITION, WHICH HAS REVOLUTIONIZED CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES TO THE ANCIENT BRITISH MYSTERIES. TOGETHER, THEY CREATED THE BESTSELLING ARTHURIAN TAROT, WHICH HAS BEEN TRANSLATED INTO SEVERAL LANGUAGE. JOHN ALSO ADVISES ON FILM PROJECTS. BETWEEN 1989 AND 1992 HE CO-ORGANIZED THE MERLIN CONFERENCE. HE IS MUCH IN DEMAND AS A SPEAKER IN EUROPE AND AMERICA. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
21
4 star
5
3 star
1
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 27 customer reviews
Having read this book previously by borrowing it from the library i decided to buy the book.
Elizabeth J. Smith
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the holidays, and who has an open mind.
Jean Jendras
This impressively researched book even contains ideas for creating celebrations and traditions of your own.
Barbara W. Klaser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 89 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful text full of history and thought, and beautiful illustrations. The author extensively explores the origins of numerous Christmas traditions,e.g., lights, evergreens, yule logs, etc. by tracing these customs to the occurance and celebration of the winter solstice, and in later history, to many Roman celebrations. The text adds greater richness, understanding, and appreciation to many Christmas traditions. The author also offers suggestions for celebrating the winter solstice as the important celestial event that it is.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By merrymousies on January 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Very complete with history and lore as well as activites. Two thumbs up on this one. Great pictures too. Information is presented in a very straight-forward way. I love this book - made for a much more meaningful christmas for me this year. The table of contents has:
1) The Solstice Dream (this chapter talks to Solstice celebrations and lore across the world and across the ages - from egypt to china to Rome. Poetry and prose from other sources are included.) All chapters end with celebration activites
2) Child of Wonder (this chapter talks to the birth of different gods across the ages - such as apollo, mabon, jesus)
3) The Green Bough (this chapter talks to the symbolism of the tree, the use of evergreens versus cherry tree etc. Green man is also discussed)
4) Old Sir Christmas (this chapter talks to the jolly old elf as well as the Shaman in the Tree and others across the cultures)
5) The Solstice Animals (this is about the slaughter of animals - 'nough said there - go vegetarian!)
6) The 12 days of Christmas
At the end of the book is a few pages on additional resources/references which is pretty good.
Great book! Most complete I've found and I like how it looks across cultures.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia M. Caton on March 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I almost didn't buy this book because it had Christmas in the title and I supposed it would not have much in the way of the pagan holiday. I was very wrong. This is the best book I have ever read on the solstice. It tells of celebrating Yule before Christianity abducted it. "The Winter Solstice" has the look of an arty, coffee table book but it is definitely worth the read. It offers a couple of small rituals and some great phrases for ceremonies. It is more of a scholary history than a magickal book. I cannot wait to read it again next December to get me in the Yule spirit!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Barbara W. Klaser on February 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Most people who celebrate Christmas know that numerous elements of our modern traditions come from older religions than Christianity, but the range of source traditions astounds me. There is, for instance, no one source of the practice of observing the winter solstice itself, of myths involving the death or sacrifice and rebirth of a deity, or of father and son symbols for the old year and the new. Many sources are cited in the book as possible origins of Santa Claus, of the giving of gifts, and the custom of bringing greenery indoors.

It's not the diversity of customs that fascinates me so much as the variety of myths and stories that impact on an emotional level. When I consider the winter solstice traditions presented here, as a whole, I realize how similar all cultures are in their most basic concerns. The winter solstice was a time of great disquiet to people who lived close to the earth, more than a couple of centuries ago. The shortening of days, scarcity of food, and intense cold of winter carried far deeper implications for those who lived directly off the land and couldn't quickly transport needed goods. It's no surprise some important and deeply meaningful traditions arose from the resulting insecurity about the future.

Whatever the reason behind the timing of Christmas so near the solstice, and whatever your beliefs about it or your reason for reading, you'll find a wealth of information in The Winter Solstice. This impressively researched book even contains ideas for creating celebrations and traditions of your own. It's a fitting tribute to this most ancient holy day. If your celebration centers around the birth of Jesus, never fear. There's a wealth of commentary and research included on traditions specific to Christianity.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Howard Clark Jr. on February 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
One of the better books I have seen when it comes bringing religion and folklore together - from the origin of the Christmas tree to the meaning behind the Twelve Days of Christmas. A must buy to the pagan as well as the Christian.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Brian P. Hudson VINE VOICE on November 14, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've always loved Christmas. But a few years ago I deconverted from faith; I found myself, as an atheist and humanist, longing for a connection to the holiday I loved. This book helped me forge a new perspective on, and a new connection with, Christmas as a worldly and human celebration.

Each chapter provides cross-cultural connections to the ideas, customs, and icons of Christmas. Even when Matthews seems to be reaching a bit, it makes for engaging reading, and provides the rest of us with a way to connect with America's (and much of the Western World's) most important holiday season. It's especially engaging to know the origins of certain figures and beliefs; rarely are the origins religious, but cultural and traditional. [My favorite chapter was on the Twelve Days of Christmas.] The presentation of faith-free rituals at the end of each chapter was especially welcome, and I have already incorporated some small, new traditions into my holiday activities.

I recommend it to readers of all faiths or non-faiths. Every open-minded reader can find something of interest. Only literal Fundamentalists will be offended!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search
ARRAY(0xa700a9c0)