Inventing the Christmas Tree by Bernd Brunner

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Bernd Brunner has a written a slender but fascinating book on the Christmas tree...In wry tones, playing with cultural and scientific contexts, he lays out the provenance of the festive tree and its first appearances.
-Guardian

Synopsis

A colorfully decorated Christmas tree, lit with twinkling lights, provokes awe and delight. We understand the lighted tree as a central symbol of the Christmas season, but what are the roots of the tradition? Who first thought to bedeck a tree, to bring it inside? How and where did the local activity grow into a widespread tradition, and how has the Christmas tree traveled across time and continents? Bernd Brunner's brief history—enriched by a selection of delightful and unusual historical illustrations—spans many centuries and cultures to illuminate the mysteries of the Christmas tree and its enduring hold on the human imagination. Tracing various European traditions from the Middle Ages forward, Brunner finds that only in the nineteenth century did Christmas trees become common in European family homes. In North America, the imported custom soon fascinated, though some found the tree not quite compatible with a Puritan mindset. Brunner explores how the Christmas tree entered mainstream American culture and how in recent times it has become globally popular. He introduces Jacqueline Kennedy's Nutcracker Tree in the White House, trees used to celebrate the New Year in Turkey, and the world's most expensive Christmas tree, erected in Abu Dhabi. The author also considers the place of the artificial tree and the ecological dimensions of the Christmas tree trade. A book rich with anecdote and insight, Inventing the Christmas Tree will enchant a wide audience.
 

About Bernd Brunner

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Bernd Brunner is a freelance writer who often explores the intersection of cultural history and the history of science in his writings. He divides his time between Istanbul, Turkey, and Berlin, Germany.
 
Published November 1, 2012 by Yale University Press. 108 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Inventing the Christmas Tree
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Philip Hoare on Dec 14 2012

Bernd Brunner has a written a slender but fascinating book on the Christmas tree...In wry tones, playing with cultural and scientific contexts, he lays out the provenance of the festive tree and its first appearances.

Read Full Review of Inventing the Christmas Tree | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Eric Felten on Nov 16 2012

...celebrating the Christmas tree as a mystery and, as such, in perfect keeping with the holiday it symbolizes.

Read Full Review of Inventing the Christmas Tree | See more reviews from WSJ online

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