—Edgar Allan Poe
Imagine Christmas Eve: Snow sifts down from the night sky, the fireplace glows red and crackles with warmth, and a stately looking family gathers in the living room with food and drink to regale each other with tales of the undead coming to life and psychologically taunting characters until they are driven to madness from fear. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night? Yes indeed. Sweet dreams, little ones.
For as odd as this scene might sound, the telling of ghost stories on the night before Christmas was and is a common tradition in England and throughout much of Europe.
Stories are to be found everywhere on this narrative-inclined Christmas holiday—in movies, songs, even in its decorations—but nothing endures quite like the stories that were read to us by family. As we age, it becomes our job to pass on that holiday cheer to the younger spirits in our lives. There is a rich selection of children’s literature to choose from, including classics like Eloise at Christmastime, and modern gems like Angela and the Baby Jesus. Here, we explore the many books available for parents and family members wishing to brighten a young child’s holiday.
For some, it may be years since they’ve heard it recited. Others, on the other hand, may have never had the chance to hear the classic Christmas tale from start to finish. But this doesn’t mean The Night Before Christmas is in any way a relic of Christmas past—a poetic ghost clinging to some kind of existence in this world rather than passing on to another.
In fact, as families gather together this Christmas season, the references and allusions to this 1823 work may be more prevalent than you think.
Charles Dickens understood Christmas. No one knew better than him that this year-end holiday should do but one thing: lift our spirits. It's a celebration to keep us warm and merry in the short days and frigid winds of winter. We are to do this with good food and wine, lights, music, gifts, and company. A crucial element of this palliative recipe was stories, and Dickens both extended and innovated the cultural tradition of Christmas in his own novels and tales. It’s an age-old belief that no one should go through Christmas without a good book, and the gift ideas below will help you make that wish come true for your friends and family.
Traditions abound during the Christmas season. Some people carol, others sled. Some vacation, others stay close to home. Many celebrate with a church community or eat a holiday meal with family and friends. Perhaps most appropriately - especially here in this bookish corner of the internet - is the fact that for many people, Christmas traditions center around books and storytelling.
With the holidays fast approaching, it can be easy to take for granted all of the Christmas cheer that seeps into daily life. From the omnipresence of Christmas lights and miniature Santas to the unabashed spinning of Bing Crosby records, one might be lulled into such a state of wintry bliss that one could forget that the true force of Christmas spirit emanates from one’s bookshelf. Here are ten of the most collectible Christmas books to enliven your holiday spirit.
With my favorite holiday approaching, there is no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than reading and collecting The Night before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. This essential children’s book has long been one of my favorites. When I first began collecting, I knew I wanted to focus on something that I had cherished as a child; so naturally I chose The Night before Christmas books, among a few others. Still a classic to this day, The Night before Christmas encompasses the magic of Christmas that is treasured by children and so often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the season.
Charles Dickens published his final Christmas novella, The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain, A Fancy for Christmas-Time, in 1848. While it has been upstaged by the most famous of his yuletide stories, A Christmas Carol, both share a distinct similarity: a ghostly plot. While Dickens is often credited with inventing the modern idea of Christmas, that of trees and garlands and presents, he also cast a spooky, haunting mood over the holiday. To Dickens, Christmas was not only a time for festive warmth, but one for dark examination, too.
The first snowfall of the year, the anticipation of Christmas, the wealth of holiday traditions: the end of the year is filled with opportunities for joy and fascination for the young (and young at heart). It’s no surprise, then, that the list of Caldecott award winners is filled with winter tales. It’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up with loved ones and read a book, so here are some classics to enjoy, from The Polar Express to The Big Snow.