The Feast of Christmas
The Feast of Christmas
Joseph F. Kelly
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Many Christians struggle to balance the religious and secular elements of Christmas, but the history of the feast shows that this is nothing new. The religious Christmas has changed over the centuries and, contrary to many critics, is thriving today. This brief, accessible account will explain that:

  • The first Christians did not celebrate Christmas at all. The earliest mention of the feast occurs in the fourth century.
  • In the Middle Ages Christmas moved into northern Europe where it became a major winter festival, competing with the pagan Yule.
  • During the sixteenth century some Christians objected to Christmas because they claimed it had no biblical foundation. In England and New England the Puritans made it a crime to celebrate it!
  • The modern secular Christmas arose in the nineteenth century, but the religious Christmas continued to grow in popularity and meshed well with the developing emphasis on Christmas as a day for family and friends.
  • In today's world, rampant consumerism threatens the religious Christmas, but it continues not only to survive but to flourish, taking on new life and new forms.

By tracing these and other aspects of the religious celebration of Christmas through the centuries, Joseph F. Kelly does much more than provide us with interesting facts. He reassures us that though the religious Christmas may not be in its traditional form, it is indeed alive and well, and has a bright and promising future.

Joseph F. Kelly, PhD, is professor of religious studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is author of The Origins of Christmas, An Introduction to the New Testament for Catholics, The Collegeville Church History Timeline, The Birth of Jesus According to the Gospels, and The Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church, all published by Liturgical Press.

Centuries of Christmas celebrations described with humor and snap. Kelly looks at the festivities from consumerist, secular, and Christian points of view. A grand gift for the season.
Frederick W. Norris, Professor of World Christianity, Emeritus, Emmanuel School of Religion, Tennessee

An easy read, this would be a great book not only for the general audience for who Kelly wrote, but also for parish youth groups and even older Catholic school youngsters. It's just fun, fascinating, enjoyable. I also recommend a bit of Christmas customs and development reading during late spring!
Liturgical Ministry

Here is a lovely and informative book that will help you get in the mood for Christmas. Kelly's analysis and reflections . are wise and judicious.
Donald Senior, The Bible Today

Product number: 3325
ISBN: 978-0-8146-3325-0
Pages: 136
Trim Size: 5 3/8 x 8 1/4
Publication Date: 09/01/2010

The Problem of Evil in the Western Tradition

From the Book of Job to Modern Genetics

Joseph F. Kelly

The question of evil presents a profound challenge to humanity—why do we do what we know to be wrong? This is especially a challenge to religious believers. Why doesn't an all-good and omnipotent God step in and put an end to evil? The Problem of Evi...

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The Birth of Jesus According to the Gospels

Joseph F. Kelly

In his previous book The Origins of Christmas, Joseph F. Kelly answers common questions about the development of Christmas rituals and legends, and explores the history of the holiday. In this book Kelly turns to the infancy narratives to see what th...

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Who Is Satan?

According To The Scriptures

Joseph F. Kelly

How does the Bible's teaching on the devil square with psychology and other modern scientific disciplines that seem to have driven Satan into the realm of myth? Why does 666 signify the devil? Is Satan the Antichrist or does that term refer to a huma...

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An Introduction to the New Testament for Catholics

Joseph F. Kelly

The title of this book may be a bit puzzling—a Catholic introduction to the New Testament? The New Testament belongs to all Christians, and the modern study of the New Testament has benefited from the contributions by scholars of all Christian denomi...

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The World of the Early Christians

Joseph F. Kelly

Like every "lost world," the world of the early Christians was a combination of the foreign and the familiar, the unique and the commonplace. In The World of the Early Christians, Joseph Kelly introduces and explains the world of the early Christians...

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The Origins of Christmas

Revised Edition

Joseph F. Kelly

When was Christmas first celebrated? How did December 25 become the date for the feast? How did the Bible's "magi from the East" become three kings named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar who rode camels from three different continents to worship the n...

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The Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church

A History

Joseph F. Kelly, PhD

There have been twenty-one universal gatherings—ecumenical councils—of the Catholic Church. The first opened in 325, the last closed in 1965, and the names of many ring out in the history of the church: Nicea, Chalcedon, Trent, Vatican II. Though cen...

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History and Heresy

How Historical Forces Can Create Doctrinal Conflicts

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God is beyond time, but every person is firmly planted in it. History impacts us endlessly, including the ways we understand the church and its teachings. This has been the case since the time of the earliest believers. In History and Heresy, Joseph ...

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The Collegeville Church History Time-Line

Joseph F. Kelly

In this pilgrimage through church history, Joseph Kelly provides a colorful, graphic representation of the events and people of the Roman Catholic Church and puts in hand a wealth of historical information in a clear, easy-to-access format. Adults an...

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Responding to Evil

Joseph F. Kelly

In Responding to Evil Joseph Kelly treats evil as a force in our personal lives. He talks about the impact of September 11 on the American consciousness and how that brought the question of evil front and center. Professor Kelly then looks at what ev...

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