Gift Books

Current material

Final Pages

More information



Judith Flanders

A Biography

A sharp and revealing look at the myths, legends and history of the season. From the origins of the holiday in the Roman Empire to the emergence of Christmas trees in central Europe, to what might just possibly be the first appearance of Santa Claus - in Switzerland! Flanders draws a picture of the season as it has never been seen before.

Generations all like to think they are re-enacting old customs around Christmas: the trees, the food, the drink, the games, the carols, the snow and Father Christmas himself.

But, as this sharp and witty history shows, the past being celebrated is relatively recent, and always imaginary, often not recognised in its own time; and the facts about Christmas origins seep away into pagan rituals and missing texts and uncertain dates, enhanced by a lot of cheerful Victorian merchandising and wishful thinking.

Christmas has accumulated into what people wanted to make of it, pulling in elements of religion and seasonal festivities, stories by Dickens and other writers, and brightly coloured wrapping paper and candles.

A history of Christmas is a happy testament to the positive human spirit, celebrating generosity and shared comforts, and obliterating for a while the sharp edges of winter.

Judith Flanders is the author of the critically acclaimed biography A Circle of Sisters (2001), which was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award, and the best-selling The Victorian House (2003), nominated for the British Book Awards History Book of the Year. She is a frequent contributor to the Telegraph, the Spectator and the Times Literary Supplement.

Available Rights

Language Territory Type Agency Client
German World Book Sebastian Ritscher
Mohrbooks AG
Heath Please login


12. December 2017, review
"Well-researched...Extensive and highly readable footnotes and end notes make this a pleasurable read."


12. December 2017, quote
"The book is stuffed with facts enough to satiate even the most ravenous post-prandial taste for quizzing."

The Sunday Times

12. December 2017, quote
"A catalogue of colourful information, as much of a ragbag of cultural references as Christmas itself, and as surprising an assortment of items as any you might find heaped up under a tree."

The Observer

12. December 2017, review
As you prepare to make the rounds at holiday cocktail parties and family gatherings this season, now seems like a good time to stock up on conversational Christmas tidbits. Recite these festive facts from "Christmas: A Biography" [.] you'll make it throug

New York Post

12. December 2017, review
"In an investigation that becomes more engrossing as it proceeds, Flanders covers an expanse of ground with an enviable elegance. This book is written in the sort of prose that resembles in its purity and freshness the snow outside Judy Garland's bedroom

Glasgow Herald

More like this