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Christmas and The Private Library, Part 1

The literature of Christmas is vast, and any book collector seeking to create a Christmas-themed private library quickly realizes that difficult choices have to be made. Does one collect everything written about or influenced by this holiday? Does one focus only on non fiction books (origins, evolution, secular or religious aspects), fiction (not all of which is cheery), or both? Does one collect such books as a stand-alone theme, or as an adjunct to other collecting areas (folklore, religion, industrialization, childhood, illustration)? - This is a literary Christmas present by L. D. Mitchell and his famous blog The Private Library.

Published on 20 Feb. 2018

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By L. D. Mitchell


There are a huge number of holidays that are celebrated around the world during December. To cite but a few, there's

Advent (the four weeks before Christmas);

St. Nicholas Day (December 6);

Chanuka (December 11-19 in 2009);

Festival de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (December 12);

St. Lucia Day (December 13);

Las Posadas (December 16-24);

Yule (December 20-22);

Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere, December 21 or 22);

Soyaluna (December 22);

DongZhi (December 21, 22 or 23);

Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1);

Boxing Day (December 26);

Ōmisoka (December 31).

Because many of the above holidays celebrate the triumph of "light" and warmth over "darkness" and cold, and are rooted in ancient pagan traditions that later were co-opted by proponents of Christianity, it is not surprising that quite a few of them are precursors to, or are associated with, what arguably is the most celebrated holiday in the Western World, Christmas:

The literature of Christmas is vast, and any book collector seeking to create a Christmas-themed private library quickly realizes that difficult choices have to be made.

Because many of the above holidays celebrate the triumph of "light" and warmth over "darkness" and cold, and are rooted in ancient pagan traditions that later were co-opted by proponents of Christianity, it is not surprising that quite a few of them are precursors to, or are associated with, what arguably is the most celebrated holiday in the Western World, Christmas:

The literature of Christmas is vast, and any book collector seeking to create a Christmas-themed private library quickly realizes that difficult choices have to be made.

Does one collect everything written about or influenced by this holiday? An impossible task - even if one has all the money in the world, some books simply are unavailable in the marketplace.

Does one focus only on non fiction books (origins, evolution, secular or religious aspects), fiction (not all of which is cheery), or both? Does one collect such books as a stand-alone theme, or as an adjunct to other collecting areas (folklore, religion, industrialization, childhood, illustration)?

Whether one is collecting everything one can about Christmas, or only focusing on a particular aspect of the holiday, most folks building a private library around this theme generally include on their shelves one or two books about the origins and evolution of the holiday including its associated religious and/or secular traditions and perhaps also the evolution of the holiday in various locales.

For most folks, this is about as far as they delve into the origins and evolution of the holiday, preferring instead to focus their time and money on those one or two aspects of Christmas in which they are most interested (collectibles, cookbooks, etc.).

Others will delve deeper, adding to their shelves books that deconstruct the holiday bit by bit. Fenerally starting with ancient pagan antecedents, them moving forward to the various Christian accretions...

The deeper one digs, the more book shelves one needs. Especially since certain works of fiction also have had a tremendous influence on how Christmas is celebrated....

Over the next several days, we will examine the literature of Christmas in more detail.

To be continued …

Are you looking for Christmas Books?


>>> Browse the ILAB Metasearch

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Published on L. D. Mitchell's famous blog The Private Library. Part 1 and Part 2, presented here by permission of the author. Thank you very much. Pictures: The Private Library.

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