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Adoration of the Magi by Sandro Botticelli -- detail [1465-7] (Public Domain Image)

Christmas in Ritual and Tradition

by Clement A. Miles


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This is a study of the origin of modern Christmas in ancient pagan traditions, how the festival was adopted by Christianity, and its evolution through history. Miles includes descriptions of folk-lore related to the Christmas season from a wide range of European countries, including an extensive collection of folk songs. It is important to learn about these traditions to remind ourselves that before Christmas became a hyper-commercialized festival of consumption, it was a joyous celebration of renewal and friendship.

Title Page
Chapter I. Introduction

Part I. The Christian Feast

Chapter II. Christmas Poetry (I)
Chapter III. Christmas Poetry (II)
Chapter IV. Christmas in Liturgy and Popular Devotion
Chapter V. Christmas Drama

Part II. Pagan Survivals

Chapter VI. Pre-Christian Winter Festivals
Chapter VII. All Hallow Tide to Martinmas
Chapter VIII. St. Clement to St. Thomas
Chapter IX. Christmas Eve and the Twelve Days
Chapter X. The Yule Log
Chapter XI. The Christmas-Tree, Decorations, and Gifts
Chapter XII. Christmas Feasting and Sacrificial Survivals
Chapter XIII. Masking, the Mummers' Play, the Feast of Fools, and the Boy Bishop
Chapter XIV. St. Stephen's, St. Johns, and Holy Innocents' Days
Chapter XV. New Year's Day
Chapter XVI. Epiphany to Candlemas
Notes and Bibliography