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Inventing the Christmas Tree

Inventing the Christmas Tree

Bernd Brunner
Translated from the German by Benjamin A. Smith
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 96
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  • Book Info
    Inventing the Christmas Tree
    Book Description:

    A colorfully decorated Christmas tree, lit with twinkling lights, provokes awe and delight. We understand the lighted tree as a central symbol of the Christmas season, but what are the roots of the tradition? Who first thought to bedeck a tree, to bring it inside? How and where did the local activity grow into a widespread tradition, and how has the Christmas tree traveled across time and continents? Bernd Brunner's brief history-enriched by a selection of delightful and unusual historical illustrations-spans many centuries and cultures to illuminate the mysteries of the Christmas tree and its enduring hold on the human imagination.

    Tracing various European traditions from the Middle Ages forward, Brunner finds that only in the nineteenth century did Christmas trees become common in European family homes. In North America, the imported custom soon fascinated, though some found the tree not quite compatible with a Puritan mindset. Brunner explores how the Christmas tree entered mainstream American culture and how in recent times it has become globally popular. He introduces Jacqueline Kennedy's Nutcracker Tree in the White House, trees used to celebrate the New Year in Turkey, and the world's most expensive Christmas tree, erected in Abu Dhabi. The author also considers the place of the artificial tree and the ecological dimensions of the Christmas tree trade. A book rich with anecdote and insight,Inventing the Christmas Treewill enchant a wide audience.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18886-8
    Subjects: History, Botany & Plant Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. A Tree Full of Mystery
    (pp. 1-94)

    A colorfully decorated, fragrant tree, lit with strings of twinkling lights—the most important and enduring symbol of Christmas, the major annual festival in the Christian world. When it’s snowy and dark outside and the days are short, the tree lets us dream of nature’s life force returning. Its deep evergreen is the symbol of life long-lasting, and its decorations—anticipating the buds and blossoms of the coming season—give the tree a hint of fairyland. A visual magnet, it lightens the gloom of winter, delivers a slice of the forest within the walls of the home, and, on Christmas...

  4. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 95-97)
  5. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 99-99)