What Christmas Means to Me

It took me a little longer than I had anticipated to finish Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas. Partly because I decided to read it during December, and partly because it was a historical retelling of how Christmas has evolved over time. I found it fascinating but also a bit overwhelming in regards to the amount of information the author packed into each paragraph. It’s the quintessential compilation of accounts, both personal and public, of how American’s have celebrated Christmas over the past 200 years.

I was relieved that the author didn’t get bogged down in trying to address various religious arguments; although he did discuss how our modern day Christmas has it’s roots in the ancient Roman festival Saturnalia. Instead, he focused on describing how the celebration of Christmas has evolved over time from a public, carnival like celebration, to a private, domestic holiday. It was a relief to learn that ever since the advent of Santa parents have been worried about spoiling their children rotten and people have always longed to keep Christmas in the simpler, quieter way that they mistakenly imagined generations before them had been celebrating.

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