Book review: Christmas by Nick Page

Christmas by Nick Page

You know all those stories and memes about Christmas actually being a pagan feast that the early Church appropriated? Christmas trees, yule and yule logs, even the actual day of the celebration? Turns out that the myth of the Christian origin of Christmas is as much a myth as its detractors claim the feast is itself.

Nick Page does an excellent job of chasing the historical roots of Christmas down to their often obscure origins. In particular, he digs down into the origin of the feast in the Christian calendar and the roughly contemporary start of the pagan feast that the Church was supposed to have muscled in upon.

Coming closer in time, it’s fascinating to learn how many apparently ancient Christmas customs are actually relatively recent, with most of them starting in the 18th and, particularly, 19th centuries. The book’s subtitle – Tradition, Truth and Total Baubles – shows Page’s love of jokes and puns. For this reader, there were slightly too many but that’s down to taste. All in all, the book is an excellent and readable account of how we have come to have the Christmas that we celebrate today.


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