Boydell Brewers banner

Christmas

'What drove people to go off into the forest, chop down a tree, decorate it?’ asks Bernd Brunner in his short history of the Christmas tree.

He answers with a wide- ranging exploration of the genesis of this symbol of the Christmas season...

By J.A.R. Pimlott

J.A.R. Pimlott studies the development of the Christmas Spirit—from Pagan Saturnalia to Victorian family party

By John Terraine

Sentimentality about Christmas in Britain is a Victorian legacy that owes much to the influence of Germany. The sense of outrage in December, 1914, at encountering a Christmas tarnished by the ugliness of war was common to both countries.

By Matt Salusbury

Did the first Christian Roman emperor appropriate the pagan festival of Saturnalia to celebrate the birth of Christ? Matt Salusbury weighs the evidence.

By J.K. Elliott

J.K. Elliott describes how many diverse elements are woven into the traditional account of the Nativity; but ‘the inspiration that the story has given to countless believers... speaks for its effectiveness.’

By Geza Vermes

Geza Vermes looks at the Christmas stories in the Bible with a historian’s eye.

By Alison Barnes

Alison Barnes sets the record straight on who was really responsible for introducing this popular custom to Britain.

Portrait of Samuel Pepys by J. Hayls.

By Ron White

Ron White draws on the diaries of Samuel Pepys to paint a picture of the festive season in the 1660s.

By Penne Restad

Before 1850 many US citizens did not dream of Christmas at all. Penne Restad tells how and why this changed – and played its role in uniting the States in social cohesion.

By Geoffrey Rowell

The best-loved of Britain's novelists penned a tale that struck a potent chord in the popular revival of the season of goodwill. Geoffrey Rowell explains its appeal and its powerful religious and social overtones.