Behind every Christmas tradition is a story, often a forgotten one. Every year as we put up a tree and pour the eggnog, we’re continuing generations-old narratives, while being mostly unaware of their starting chapters.
Join Brian Earl to explore the fascinating stories behind the most wonderful time of the year. It's equal parts nerdy deep dive and warmhearted celebration. Think: NPR meets Clement Clarke Moore!
Christmas Past is one of the longest running Christmas podcasts, now in its eighth season.
Vanity Fair says: "With excellent production, engaging narration, and short, digestible running times, Christmas Past is perfect to put on while decorating your tree or preparing Christmas dinner."
Brian's new book is out now from Lyons Press and Recorded books! Get your copy today, wherever books are sold. And remember...it makes a great gift!
Backstory — Elves
The earliest myths involving elves portrayed them as mischievous or even malicious creatures that posed dangers to humans and animals. So, how do we get from there to jolly little Christmas elves? It’s a story that takes us from ancient Ancient Europe to the current day — one that involves mythology, modern American influence, the power of poetry and literature, possibly the rise of industrialization, and definitely...sticking it to the Nazis.
Mentioned in this Episode Christmas in the Crosshairs, by Gerry Bowler Santa Claus: A Biography, by Gerry Bowler The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, by Gerry Bowler Music in this Episode "Ivory Pillow" — Blue Dot Sessions, via Free Music Archive "Ambient Piano" — BlackPy Beats, via Pixabay "Road in the Forest" — Olexy, via Pixabay "Christmas Music Box" — Oleg Kirilkov, via Pixabay "Gentle Soft Piano | Christmas Vibes" — Alex Productions, via Free Music Archive
Backstory — Nutcrackers
Decorative nutcrackers — most often resembling a toy soldier, but available in countless other characters — are synonymous with the Christmas season. Why? It’s a story whose origins predate Christmas itself. And whose history involves a mining town, Napoleon, dance theater, and World War two. So...let’s get crackin’!
Mentioned in this Episode http://www.nutcrackermuseum.com/
Music in this Episode "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies" — Kevin MacLeod, via Wikimedia Commons "March from the Nutcracker" — Trygve Larsen, via Pixabay "Chinese Dance from the Nutcracker" — Trygve Larsen, via Pixabay "Arabian Dance from the Nutcracker" — Trygve Larsen, via Pixabay "Wish Background" — Kevin MacLeod, via Incompetech
Story Time — The Christmas Sing In Our Village
Interview & Story Time — The Christmas Stories of Mary Wilkins Freeman
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman was a prolific author in the 19th century. Her Christmas stories showed up every year in newspapers and magazines. Professor Thomas Ruys Smith recently published a new collection of Freeman's Christmas stories. Professor Smith joins me today to discuss Freeman, and then Brian narrates "Harriet Anne's Christmas" from the collection.
Mentioned in this Episode The Last Gift: The Christmas Stories of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Music in this Episode "Family Holiday" — Aleksey Chistilin, via Pixabay "Piano Music No. 1" — Relaxing Time, via Pixabay "Relaxing Piano Music" — Kevin Macleod, via Incompetech
Story Time — The Captain of the Polestar
As we ease our way into another Christmas season, we're practicing thta somewhat forgotten tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas time! In 1883, Temple Bar magazine published a story by a writer and physician named Arthur Conan Doyle. Nowadays, we refer to him as sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and we know him best as the creator of that most famous of detectives: Sherlock Holmes. But this 1883 story isn’t about Sherlock. It’s about a ship trapped in arctic ice and the strange things the captain and crew experience. Join Brian for a reading of The Captain of the Polestar.
Mentioned in this Episode Biblioasis
Music in this Episode "Dewbound" — Blue Dot Sessions, via Free Music Archive "Ethereal Relaxation" — Kevin MacLeod, via Incompetech
Join Christmas Past one last time in the 2022 season. It's our annual look back at the sights, sounds, news, and trends that made Christmas of 2022 what it was.
Merry Christmas to all, and many thanks for being part of the 2022 season of Christmas Past.
Music in This Episode "This Christmas" — Hot Music, via Pixabay "Deck the Halls A" — Kevin MacLeod, via Incompetech "Silent Night" — Kevin MacLeod, via Incompetech "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" — Kevin MacLeod, via Incompetech Buy the Christmas Past Book! Order your copy today. And remember...it makes a great gift!
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All The Christmas Feels
Listening to this podcast gets me so excited for Christmas. I love learning the history behind some of my favorite holiday events and traditions. Thank you Brian!
I’m so glad this is back, it’s become a core part of my own Christmas season and I’ve looked forward to hearing from Brian the whole year. So glad this is back again for another wonderful season.
So glad the 2023 season is starting!
I discovered this podcast 2 years ago, and it is fast becoming a Christmas tradition. Brian’s hosting really helps me get into the Christmas mood, with episodes that answer questions I never knew I had about the season and the many traditions that have grown up around the holidays. I’m really looking forward to hearing what he has in store this year. Thank you Brian!