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  • Published: 1 December 2016
  • ISBN: 9780241267738
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $19.99

A Christmas Cornucopia

The Hidden Stories Behind Our Yuletide Traditions




The curious origins and meanings of our cracking Christmas customs

For 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 was first celebrated on 28 March in 243 AD - 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. We're unaware of the recipe that inspired the Twelve Days of Christmas. 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.

  • Published: 1 December 2016
  • ISBN: 9780241267738
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $19.99

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Praise for A Christmas Cornucopia

Witty and revelatory. Blooming brilliant

Raymond Briggs

Everything we ever thought about Christmas is wrong! Great stuff

Matthew Parris

Mark Forsyth wears his considerable knowledge lightly. He also writes beautifully

David Marsh, on 'The Elements of Eloquence', Guardian

This year's must-have stocking filler ... the essential addition to the library in the smallest room is Mark Forsyth's The Etymologicon.

Ian Samson, Guardian

With his casual elegance and melodious voice, Mark Forsyth has an anachronistic charm totally at odds with the 21st century (The Horologicon)

Sunday Times South Africa

[The Etymologicon is] a perfect bit of stocking filler for the bookish member of the family, or just a cracking all-year-round-read. Highly recommended.

The Spectator

As good as promised - could have been thrice as long

Ben Schott, on 'The Elements of Eloquence'

Mark imparts knowledge about Christmas traditions from the essential to the (very) abstruse in wry and sardonic style. An effortless and enjoyable way to learn more about this fulcrum of our calendar

Paul Smiddy, Former Head of pan-European retail research, HSBC

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