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4000 Years of Christmas : A Gift from the Ages
Earl W. Count and Alice Count With an introduction by Dan Wakefield

1569750874 Retail Price: $16.00
CenturyOne Price: $12.80
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Availability: Out-of-Print

Format: Hardcover, 112pp.
ISBN: 1569750874
Publisher: Ulysses Press
Pub. Date: November 1997

Book Information:
Reader's Index
About the Author
Table of Contents
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Item No: 1435-6


From The Publisher:

This charming story of our Christmas traditions carries us around the globe and through the millennia in search of the ancient customs that have become part of our modern-day celebration. Along the way, we discover:
Decorating with mistletoe began with the mysterious rituals of pagans

Exchanging gifts for the "Twelve Days of Christmas" started among Bronze Age Babylonians

Decking the halls with lighted candles and lamps was originally part of the Saturnalia festival celebrated by Romans every December

The original story of Saint Nicholas told of a kind old man who saved three children from slavery by leaving three bags of gold in their house

Each of us has our favorite Christmas memories. Images of evergreen trees, colorfully wrapped presents, and loved ones arriving home at last for the holidays. We hold in our hearts the stories of a lifetime of Christmases.

But what if our entire civilization could write its own memoirs and tell the complete story of Christmas past? Surprisingly, the tale would begin not in Bethlehem, but two thousand years earlier in the cradle of civilization.

It would be a nostalgic story involving Christians and non-Christians alike. Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans--whose ancient customs became part of the Christmas celebration--would people its pages. We would see early Europeans hanging fir sprigs and winter greenery to renew life and protect against the cold blasts of Arctic wind. People who had not yet learned of the Christ child would be burning Yule logs. Of course, the most important chapter in these memoirs would take place in a manger surrounded by Wise Man and marked with a brilliant star. But the tale would continue on for another two thousand years as generation after generation added to the customs of Christmas.

It carries us around the globe and through the millenia in search of the ancient customs that have become part of our modern-day celebration. Printed in two color with illustrations, this romantic narrative reminds us that the joy we share each year comes from traditions that people have celebrated since the dawn of civilization. Not a lengthy survey of world mythology, 4000 Years of Christmas focusses on the traditions that we all share and tells a story that can be enjoyed by the entire family.


From Ingram: 
Following myth and folklore from the Near East, Greece, Rome and northern Europe, 4,000 Years of Christmas tells a story that begins not with a manger in Bethlehem, but with wealthy Babylonians exchanging gifts in an empire that flourished before the Bronze Age.

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About the Author

After a renowned career as an author, anthropologist and Episcopalian priest, Earl Count died in 1996 at age 97. During his life he served as department chairman and professor emeritus at Hamilton College (NY) and was profiled in the New York Times. His 82-year-old widow Alice Count, a published musician and historical musicologist, has updated her husband's original work for this new edition. She lives in San Francisco.

Table of Contents

Mild Blows the South Wind19
The Rising Sun Goes West24
Io Saturnalia!32
A Mother and Child in Quest of a Birthday39
The Schooling of the Northland50
The Raging Rout of the Twelve Nights56
God Into Saint65
Green is our Shield75
A Christmas Calendar80
The Tree83
The Christ Child's Tree94

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