Review: Midcentury Christmas by Sarah Archer

Ok, so it’s almost Christmas, and I need to tell you guys something. Are you sitting down? Ok. I don’t like Christmas. I just don’t. It used to be fun as a little girl, but now I don’t really care for it? Unfortunately for me, my boyfriend is OBSESSED with Christmas. But, as I’m a good girlfriend, I bought some books about the history of Christmas, just to get into the spirit of things. So, here we are, talking about the history of Christmas!

Midcentury America was a wonderland of department stores, suburban cul-de-sacs, and Tupperware parties. Every kid on the block had to have the latest cool toy, be it an Easy Bake Oven for pretend baking, a rocket ship for pretend space travel, or a Slinky, just because. At Christmastime, postwar America’s dreams and desires were on full display, from shopping mall Santas to shiny aluminum Christmas trees, from the Grinch to Charlie Brown’s beloved spindly Christmas tree. Now design maven Sarah Archer tells the story of how Christmastime in America rocketed from the Victorian period into Space Age, thanks to the new technologies and unprecedented prosperity that shaped the era. The book will feature iconic favorites of that time, including:

• A visual feast of Christmastime eats and recipes, from magazines and food and appliance makers

• Christmas cards from artists and designers of the era, featuring Henry Dreyfuss, Charles Ray Eames, and Alexander Girard

• Vintage how-to templates and instructions for holiday decor from Good Housekeeping and the 1960’s craft craze

• Advice from Popular Mechanics on how to glamorize your holiday dining table

• Decorating advice for your new Aluminum Christmas Tree from ALCOA (the Aluminum Company of America)

• The first American-made glass ornaments from Corning Glassworks

Yes, I know, it’s a long introduction to this book, but it does really capture the essence of it. This book isn’t too big, and has a lot of amazing art work, photo’s and advertisements on the subject. It’s divided into the history of Christmas in itself and after that the history of certain elements of Christmas, such as the ornaments, the space age, and Christmas trees!

Honestly, I pride myself in knowing a lot of stuff. I have read a lot about a lot of stuff, but I learned a lot from this book. I didn’t know Christmas is celebrated instead of a Roman pagan festival that is also associated with the Dutch tradition of Carnaval (which we celebrate about 40 days before lent), I didn’t know about aluminium trees, I didn’t know that Santa was pictured on actual rockets, and I didn’t know that Santa was invented by a poet! I learned a lot, and I really enjoyed reading this book. If you have any interest in Christmas, or in mid-century life, you should really read this book! A total gem on my bookshelf.

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads and you can buy it here!

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