Christmas Past: The Fascinating Stories Behind Our Favorite Holiday’s Traditions is available now from Lyons Press and Recorded Books.

Covering traditions ancient and modern, Christmas Past is filled with stories of happy accidents, cultural histories, criminal capers (including tomb raiders and con artists), and hidden connections between Christmas and broader social, economic, and technological influences. How did the invention of plate glass forever change the Christmas season? What common Christmas item helped introduce fine art to the masses? Why do Americans typically spike their eggnog with rum, rather than the traditional brandy? And speaking of booze, does using the phrase “Merry Christmas” mark you as a drunken reveler? Christmas Past answers all of those questions, and many more.

Author Brian Earl combines the same knack for storytelling and cozy nostalgia that has earned his podcast, Christmas Past, a worldwide audience, 1.5 million downloads, hundreds of five-star reviews, and coverage in the mass media.

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