Monday, April 22, 2019

Review of "An Old-Fashioned Christmas in Illustration & Decoration," edited by Clarence P. Hornung

Review of

An Old-Fashioned Christmas in Illustration & Decoration, edited by Clarence P. Hornung

Five out of five stars

 This book simultaneously illustrates how the extensive celebration of Christmas is a recent phenomenon and how the depiction of Santa Claus has changed over time. The first known instance of a Christmas card is dated 1843, so this extensive custom of celebration is less than two centuries old. Father Christmas and St. Nicholas are the two names that were given to the giver of gifts and he is generally depicted as a man with a very long beard, dressed in what looks like a raggedy, thick and long coat. Most of the time he has a smoking pipe in his mouth.

 The images are from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and depict Christmas scenes from those eras. While the drawings are from several magazines, the depictions of Santa are very consistent, pointing out that conformity is what the readers expect when thinking about Santa Claus.

 This is a look back to a time when Christmas was much less commercialized than it is now. It was a family event that was often weeks in preparation, yet there was little of the pressure to buy and sell the latest and hottest toys on the market. It was also far more secular than many modern people want you to believe.

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