The Chrismas Archives

by Countess Maria

When I began to write books it was because there were aspects of Christmas I wished to record, which were just not found in other Christmas books. Most anthologies repeat popular texts and verses. There are heaps more things one can put into an anthology. Peoples memories, accounts of Christmas past, how it used to be celebrated; lesser known literary gems which are not used by others for fear they will not have a captive buying public unless they troll out the old Dickens and Clement Moore etc. which are wonderful texts, but rather over used! Who want to pay $20 for a book which has most of the material they read in last years Christmas book?

So my anthologies followed themes so that I could get in all the bits I wanted to. Monmouthshire Christmas has all the old Welsh customs, almost forgotten except in small pockets; Wartime records how we all coped and managed to enjoy Christmas despite the odds; Shakespeare's Christmas shows little known facts about a Christmas before the Reformation of the Church in the 16th-17th centuries; Jane Austen's Christmas proves wrong those who say that Christmas celebrations began with the Victorians,that Christmas was still celebrated after the Reformation and Puritan reforms, and continued with all the old celebrations uninterrupted; The Bronte's Christmas gives a side of the Brontes not usually seen, and paints it into a background of the rich Yorkshire Christmas traditions of the North of England where the Bronte family lived.

The last in this group is Christmas Around the World. Unlike most books of this title which look at the customs today, this book looks at the traditions and customs of countries anything between 50 and 150 years ago, through the eyes of those who remembered or wrote about, the celebrations. Full of nostalgia. I was a little disappointed to discover that the editor had edited out part of traditional English Christmas, so you are taken on a wonderfully nostalgic trip through the Christmas Markets etc. and suddenly find yourself on the afternoon of Christmas Day with it all over, wondering how you got there!

Also, a wonderful series of Christmas accounts from Estonia were left out completely. This, I felt was a significant item, because in 1984, when doing some research into European Christmas, I was told by the Estonian government that Estonia did not have a religion therefore did not have Christmas. These accounts show not only that the customs are now recognised in post - communist Estonia, but from the style of writing them, they never went away at all, but rather like the British customs under Cromwell in the 17th century, they were carried on in secret, and re-emerged as soon as it was safe to do so!

But these are the trials of editing, and in fairness to editors, they have a difficult job fitting everything into the allotted pages! The book is otherwise a must for your shelves, it fills in so many gaps. And you can find the account of Estonian Christmas on the links from my WORLD TOUR page.


Some of the books listed here are out of print, but we hope to re-publish them digitally in the near future. If you are unable to purchase a particular book, check back here periodically for updates.

I hope that you will enjoy browsing through the following books, and reading the generous extracts.


A CHRISTMAS IN ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND - with extracts from the book, 'Christmas in Shakespeare's England'

A CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIAN ENGLAND - with extracts from the book, 'Jane Austen's Christmas'

A CHRISTMAS IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND - being an extract from the book, 'The Bronte's Christmas'

A CHRISTMAS IN WARTIME ENGLAND - with extracts from the book, 'Wartime Christmas'

A CHRISTMAS IN WALES - with extracts from the book, 'Monmouthshire Christmas'

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD. Not the usual book covering Christmas customs today, but a nostalgic look at Christmas past all over the world.