What Is the Meaning of Christmas? Celebrating the 25th December Around the World in History

| By Meg Ison, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth |

The longed-for Christmas break ultimately meant one thing for me as an undergraduate student reading French and History at the University of Portsmouth: January deadlines. Bah humbug! This time last year, as a student studying for an MSc in Social Research methods at the University of Southampton, the festive period was just a short break from terrifying lectures on statistical equations and mind-boggling sociological theory. Now I am a PhD student without looming French grammar tests or the self-imposed pressure to become a Master of Science. (You can read about how myself and social research methods are coming to terms with our differences here). Consequently, I am looking forward to a stress-free build up to the 25th December for the first time in years! Despite my newly found freedom, I am no less academically curious over the festive period. As such, I have enjoyed spending time this vacation delving into the Santa’s grotto that is Gale Primary Sources – overflowing with exciting archives, it is undoubtedly a treasure trove for researchers – to find out how Christmas has been celebrated around the world in history.

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Jack’s Alive to Card Castles: Entertainment in the Victorian Parlour

By Rebecca Bowden, Associate Acquisitions Editor

Having joined Gale in December 2017 with a background in business to business publishing, I am enjoying learning more about the world of digital archives. I love the diversity of Gale’s archives, and discovering the unique stories hidden within them. In my spare time I like doing a variety of unusual sports, a lot of baking, and curling up with a good book.

The upper and middle classes of the Victorian period had more leisure time than their counterparts of previous generations, yet they did not have the electronic devices which sap much of our free time in the twenty-first century – televisions, games consoles , mobile phones… our Victorian ancestors had to create their own fun!

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Credit where cash is due: Christmas on the plastic

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| By James Alex Waldron, Marketing Communications Manager |

When we covered The Commercialisation of Christmas last year, hundreds of you followed the story of how advertising shifted the mood of the season from religious festival to retail bonanza.

As 2016 became the year of smartphone projectors, Bluetooth headphones, and Minion Pie Faces, I used Gale Primary Sources to provide the next part in our story of evolving buying habits. Following the reflections in the Press to provide part two — from early private brand announcements to full-page menus of big-ticket goods. What happened when the retailers themselves pushed gifts that necessitated new ways to pay.

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The Commercialisation of Christmas

Christmas, Daily Mail, 1900

Undoubtedly, many still appreciate and celebrate the deeply religious roots of Christmas, yet it has also become a commercialised event in many countries today. From mid-November, high-streets are packed with snowflake window stickers, festive deals and cheery Christmas music to entice shoppers into an economically indulgent mood. Yet, despite the general consensus and participation in commercialising Christmas, this is often assumed to be a new phenomenon, part of today’s world. ‘Born to Buy’, an article in Gale’s Academic OneFile, offers an example of such sentiments;

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