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The Battle For Christmas

Item #: D81172
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Anyone who laments the excesses of Christmas might consider the Puritans of colonial Massachusetts: they simply outlawed the holiday, which was an occasion for drunkenness and riot, when poor "wassailers" extorted food and drink from the well-to-do. In this innovative finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Stephen Nissenbaum rediscovers Christmas's carnival origins and shows how it was transformed, during the 19th 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, including St. Nicholas, the Christmas tree, and—perhaps most radically—the practice of giving gifts to children, and offers subversive readings of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and A Christmas Carol.
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