Book Review: Christmas Curiousities: Odd, Dark, and Forgotten Christmas

Lindsay bought this for me last Christmas, and - having taken a year to recover from the holidays - I recently cracked it open for a read. Like most books about the holidays, this was marketed as a Christmas present. The writer, John Grossman, is apparently a collector specializing in printed cards, promotional publications, and the like. Here, he's brought together some fascinating images demonstrating a darker side to the season.

As a collection of images, the book is awesome. As a look at history, it's less impressive. In the chapter introductions and image blurbs, Grossman makes some grand claims about how Christmas used to be, but he offers little context to back this up. The images certainly display some fascinating depictions of the holidays from the past, but he avoids addressing whether these represented the normal iconography of their respective eras or if they were outliers.

None of this impacts the book's value as something to flip through, of course. Images of various Christmas characters - including several of Krampus, Santa's demon assistant - are fantastic. Just don't expect many details from the text.

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