Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!: Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday

Karal Ann Marling, Author Harvard University Press $29.95 (464p) ISBN 978-0-674-00318-7
Imaginatively researched and strewn with surprising details, this engaging cultural history traces the rise of the consumerism that has become as integral to the celebration of Christmas in the United States as tinsel is to tree trimming. In it, Marling (As Seen on TV) examines every ancillary form of buying, from Christmas gift wrap (which didn't exist before decorated boxes appeared in the late 1870s, followed by mass production of brightly printed paper sheets in the 1920s) to the commercialization of winter greenery in the home (which began in the late 19th century). With a keen eye for cultural diversity (her sections on the construction of African-American Christmas festivities and consumer habits are especially illuminating) and a ready sense of irony, she pierces the sentimental myths surrounding this cultural institution. Ranging from articles in the 19th century magazine Godey's Ladies Book to a statistical analysis of who buys Christmas wrap and a look at the impact of Bing Crosby's recording of ""White Christmas"" on holiday celebrations, her study, well timed for the coming holidays, will satisfy academic readers as well as general ones. (Dec. 25; on sale date Oct. 20)
Reviewed on: 12/25/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
Ebook - 459 pages - 978-0-674-04062-5
Paperback - 442 pages - 978-0-674-00679-9
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