The unpredictable origins and etymologies of our cracking Christmas customsFor something that happens every year of our lives, we really don't know much about Christmas.We don't know that the date we celebrate was chosen by a madman, or that Christmas, etymologically speaking, means 'Go away, Christ'. Nor do we know that Christmas was first celebrated in 243 AD on 28 March - and only moved to 25 December in 354 AD. We're oblivious to the fact that the advent calendar was actually invented by a Munich housewife to stop her children pestering her for a Christmas countdown. And we would never have guessed that the invention of crackers was merely a way of popularizing sweet wrappers.Luckily, like a gift from Santa himself, Mark Forsyth is here to unwrap this fundamentally funny gallimaufry of traditions and oddities, making it all finally make sense - in his wonderfully entertaining wordy way.
A Christmas Cornucopia by Mark Forsyth was published in hardback and ebook by Viking on 10 November 2016, priced £9.99
I absolutely love books like A Christmas Cornucopia, not only is it beautifully presented as a small hardback with an exquisite cover, it is jam packed with witty and fascinating facts and stories about Christmas. This really would make the perfect stocking-filler, I've already bought two copies!‘Picture a man sitting beside a dead tree. He is indoors and wearing a crown.
From the ceiling hangs a parasitical shrub that legitimates sexual assault.
Earlier, he told his children that the house had been broken into during the night by an obese Turkish man.That was a lie, but he wanted to make his children happy’
Mark Forsyth doesn't just churn out the stories that he has discovered, his writing is an absolute delight. From the biography of Santa Claus to why is it 25th December? He is hilarious, and does actually make the reader realise just how crazy some of our Christmas traditions really are.
Who knew that Advent Calendars were invented by a German housewife who was fed up to the back teeth of hearing her children whinge during the run up to Christmas.
Amongst other Christmas nuggets, you will learn:
* A ‘true’ Christmas tree should feature a snake as decoration (it’s actually a reference to Adam and Eve)
* Good King Wenceslas was in fact Duke Vaclav of Bohemia, a man so at war with his mother that he exiled her
* A truly traditional Christmas Day includes ‘wassailing’ i.e. knocking on your neighbours’ doors with a large bucket and demanding that they fill it with boozeA fascinating and interesting collection of little known facts about one of our biggest traditions. Quiz players will love this book.
A real treasure of a book!
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
Born in London in 1977, Mark Forsyth (a.k.a The Inky Fool) was given a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary as a christening present and has never looked back.
His book The Etymologicon was a Sunday Times No. 1 Bestseller, and his TED Talk 'What's a snollygoster?' has had more than half a million views.
He has also written a specially commissioned essay 'The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted' for Independent Booksellers Week and the introduction for the new edition of the Collins English Dictionary.
He was also the man behind the post about language/grammar that went viral last month.
He lives in London with his dictionaries, and blogs at blog.inkyfool.com
Follow him on Twitter @Inkyfool