I do not know much about author Ace Collins but I picked up a free copy of his Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas for free from BookLookBloggers in an exchange for an honest review.
Collins takes us on a journey of 26 various Christmas Traditions and their origin. Some you’ll recognize like Christmas Cards, exchanging gifts, and Mistletoe. Others I didn’t even know existed like baking a birthday cake for Jesus.
Collins point is to show his readers that much of what we consider as “old-fashioned” Christmas is relatively newer compared to the history of Christianity.
Me and Christmas
Theologically, I love Christmas because of the beauty of the hypostatic union. The wonders of God becoming man are beyond the full scope of human comprehension. I love to celebrate God incarnate and don’t tell me I have to wait until after Thanksgiving to do it!
But there are other things I love about Christmas too! Cookies (and here!), Christmas Trees, and Caroling are some traditions in our family. I like the colder weather, the shorter days, and the various holiday get together. And I love Christmas music. I stop listening to Christmas music somewhere around Valentine’s Day and like to pick it back up somewhere around March 25.
So, when I had the opportunity to get a free book on the history of Christmas traditions, I jumped at it.
Overall, I would give Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas 2.8 out of 5 stars. I think it would be an interesting piece to set out on your coffee table during the Christmas season for someone to flip through. There were some engaging portions like chapter 14 on Handel’s Messiah but for the most part, I found it less engaging.
Now, mind you, I really enjoy history and so it’s possible that people who aren’t into that so much might actually enjoy this book better than I did. There were also a few things I wondered about on factual accuracy. In a book this small it’s difficult to weigh in from every side I know. But an example would be in his discussion of Santa Claus. He mentions St. Nicholas as the archbishop of Myra but fails to say anything about Arius and my favorite story of Saint Nick punching him in the face!
There was also a factual error in Chapter 6 when he says the Catholic and Anglican Church controlled Christmas music for 1800 years. The Anglican Church did not exist until 1534.
Also, there were a few times that you could tell the author tried not to take sides in the Roman Catholic vs. Protestant divide. I obviously wish he would have been a little stronger in that area. But, overall, it’s an ok book.
BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.