The World Encyclopedia of Christmas Paperback – Oct 5 2004
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This encyclopedia is described as a "truly comprehensive look at Christmas and all its customs" on its book jacket. It provides more than 1,000 entries on worldwide secular and religious Christmas practices expressed in song, literature, events, film, arts, and trivia and is aimed at young adult and adult readers as well as researchers. Entries are primarily descriptive, but a number of them, especially those on films, contain critical commentary.
The entries proceed from A to Z with a liberal number of black-and-white illustrations and 16 pages of color plates. An entry heading is in boldface if it is historical or factual; in italics if it is a book, film title, or foreign phrase; and in quotation marks if it is a song or short story title. Cross-references are in capital letters or given as a see item. Notable among the entries are Quotes about Christmas, which lists quotations related to the season; a chronology of December 25 events; discussions of films such as A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life; entries giving the histories as well as the words of individual songs and carols; and descriptions of practices like mumming.
A serious shortcoming is the lack of a detailed index, which would bring together the various songs, carols, films, etc., that are referred to within the various entries. Lack of a bibliography or list of sources is another weakness, as is the fact that the scope is not explained in the introduction. Some countries have been omitted, including much of Africa, India, Korea, and Turkey. Finally, the illustrations, though they are captioned, lack dates or sources. It is tedious to scroll through the Copyright Holder's page for this information.
On the positive side, the book is enticing reading with its many descriptions of exotic customs and its blend of the ancient and the modern. It is written well and concisely. Many of the older books on Christmas customs, now out of print or difficult to find, are admirably updated in this new volume, which can enrich high-school, college, and public library collections. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Meticulously researched, well-written, and often downright funny, this encyclopedia does justice to its fascinating subject.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Wholly delightful and generally informative.”
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Over Christmas, a family discussion of Christmas activities in cultures not familiar to my own resulted in a look at the appropriate item in the encyclopedia, followed by a virtual cornucopia of additional reading as everyone suggested inquiries and questions, all of which were referenced. Hats off to Dr. Bowler!
The negative side: The encyclopedia attempts to cram too many entries into too little space. The result is that many so-called "entries" are reduced to nothing more than brief definitions of terms, objects, or persons. Lyrics to copyrighted songs are absent. With a few exceptions, entries discussing popular media subjects provide scant information beyond the bare essentials of author/lyricist/composer, dates, places, director, or principal actors. Generally lacking are human-interest details or background notes (how or why the story, movie, or song came into existence), or detailed plot descriptions. The most serious deficiencies are the lack of an index and lack of a bibliography, two basic elements requisite in any reputable reference work.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is terrible. The author is a so called Christmas expert but his work reflects someone who is uninformed and lazy. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Robert W. Grant Jr.
Every December 1st, Gerry Bowler's The World Encyclopedia of Christmas is placed on our coffee table in our family room. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer