Kristin Stiles’ Review of THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS: 2,000 YEARS OF FAITH, FABLE, AND FESTIVITY, by Heather Lefebvre

Published on November 18, 2019 by Benjamin J. Montoya

CF4Kids, 2019 | 128 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance

By Kristin Stiles


Doesn’t it always feel like Christmas is just around the corner? In our current culture we get so overwhelmed by the Christmas season. There are gifts to buy and wrap, cookies to make, church services to plan, houses to decorate, parties to attend, etc., etc. Not only do we feel the pressure of living up to expectations each year, we as Christians feel an added internal struggle: Am I staying focused on the real reason for the season? Is it okay to tell my kids that Santa is bringing their presents? What about the pagan origins of this celebration? Should I be upset if the cashier says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?

I suggest you take a deep breath and invest some time in reading a most fantastic book and sharing it with your children. Heather Lefebvre’s book, The History of Christmas, takes us on a journey through time and across many countries to look at how this most popular holiday evolved into what we celebrate today. She begins with the Nativity, and right from the start you can tell that she has done her research, and she isn’t just repeating what most of us think we know about that most important day in history. The whole book is like that. Lefebvre carefully looks at each development of the Christmas celebration as it grows and develops from the Early Church in Medieval times, through the Reformers and Puritans, into the Victorians and Modern Day. In each chapter she highlights important figures in Church history giving details about their roles in shaping not only Christmas but also our views on Christianity itself. She doesn’t shy away from explaining how pagan customs were integrated into the Christmas celebration. She explains the syncretism that has occurred in the past without endorsing or denouncing it. I think she makes a fine point, though, that this is what has happened and that we are now so far removed from those pagan practices that they have lost the pagan connotations that they once had.

This book goes beyond just walking us through history. After each chapter, Lefebvre provides Scripture passages to look up, discussion questions, recipes, and suggested activities. There is so much in this book that would make it a wonderful unit study for a homeschooling family during the month of December. So much could be involved with history, geography, Bible study, cooking, and social studies. Great discussions could be had about decisions that were made by the Puritans to ban the celebration of Christmas or about whether it was right/wrong or wise/foolish to co-opt pagan symbols and assign them Christian meaning. Ultimately, though, this book emphasizes the point that we, today, can decide how we will use the Christmas season to bring the wonder of the incarnation to our families and those we interact with during the holiday season.


Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.

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CF4Kids, 2019 | 128 pages

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