Christmas: Tradition, Truth and Total Baubles by Nick Page
Anyone arranging Christmas services would do well to read this volume - a fun, but informative resource for enjoying the stories behind our festive traditions
Christmas: Tradition, Truth and Total Baubles
By Nick Page
Hodder & Stoughton
Reviewed by Moira Kleissner
Being a great fan of Christmas traditions, I thought that I knew how most of them had developed historically. However, I learned a great deal more from Nick Page’s little volume. If you have a library of books about Christmas, like me, this book will be a very useful addition to your collection, containing a wealth of accurate information written in an engaging style. It will be a brilliant resource for Christmas quizzes at home, church, in the pub or indeed for arranging Christmas services.
Page uses the computer “Christmas Bauble Smashing Game” as a theme for his chapters. Some “baubles” he keeps and wraps in tissue paper to come out year after year, being part of the genuine Biblical Christmas tradition. But the rest he has a great time smashing while explaining why. He asks us, using his trademark humour and extensive research, if our Christmas traditions in church and at home are genuine, wondrous baubles or cheap, artificial plastic ones from a £1 shop?
These include, for example:
Original Baubles – The history of how the date decided on, changed and where it originated.
Biblical Baubles - Church Nativity Play versions of Christmas, are they the correct?
Pagan Baubles – Did our Christmas traditions come from a Pagan world view?
Church Baubles – How many days in the Advent/Christmas Season? What about our Carol Services? Was Saint Francis responsible for the Crib tradition?
Santa Baubles – Who was the real Santa? Has Cocoa Cola anything to do with it or not?
Traditional Baubles – What about crackers, the food we eat – oh, yes and the sprouts?
Christmas Carols – do they add to a true understanding of the Biblical story, or mythical baubles to be smashed?
The entertaining but very informative “Bauble Smashing” sections are interspersed with visits from the “Ghost-of-Christmas-that-never-was,” and questioning letters to “The Antiquarian.”
Anyone arranging Christmas services would do well to read this volume and think about whether they are perpetuating baubles that need smashing or inculcating the story of the Biblical Christmas. At home, this book will provide a fun, but informative resource to enjoying the stories behind our festive traditions.
Page’s erudite knowledge and wry humour kept me chortling and muttering, “Well I never knew that!” He uses thorough wide-ranging academic research, with notes on each chapter and a very full and extensive bibliography. Here is a book seriously analysing our Christmas traditions but also using a sparkle of Christmas humour.
There is only problem with this engaging small volume; the poor paper quality. Thus, reproduced illustrations are unclear. In saying that, it will make an excellent stocking filler. Why not buy a copy for your minister? Give it well before Christmas. You might even wrap it in sparkly Christmas paper and enclose a bauble or two!
Moira Kleissner is a retired Primary Deputy Head, storyteller, trainer and minister’s wife