219 episodes

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, soon entering its ninth 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!

Christmas Past Brian Earl

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 745 Ratings

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, soon entering its ninth 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!

    Christmas 2023

    Christmas 2023

    It's our eighth consecutive Christmas together. As we close out the 2023 season, we're taking a look back at the news and trends that made this Christmas what it was.
    Thank you all for another wonderful Christmas season together.
    Merry Christmas! And until we meet again, may your days be merry and bright.
    Music in this Episode "Deck the Halls A" — Kevin MacLeod, via Incompetech

    • 9 min
    Backstory — Boxing Day

    Backstory — Boxing Day

    Here in America, the day after Christmas is simply that: the day after. The party's over. But in England, it's an official holiday. December 26 — Boxing Day — is the Christmas afterparty you've been missing out on. What's the story? And what does it have to do with boxing? Paul Kerensa joins Christmas Past to...unpack the box.  
    Mentioned in this Episode Paul Kerensa Hark! The Biography of Christmas, by Paul Kerensa Music in this Episode "Good King Wenceslas" — U.S. Army Band, via Wikimedia Commons "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" — DJ Williams, via Youtube Audio Library "In the Bleak Midwinter" — Julius H., via Pixabay "Emotional Piano Improvisation" — Alexander Nakarada, via Film Music "Holiday Gift" — Kai Engel, via Free Music Archive Section from A Christmas Carol read by Peter John Keeble, courtesy of Librivox

    • 12 min
    Your Christmas Memories: 2023, vol 2

    Your Christmas Memories: 2023, vol 2

    Christmas Day is less than a week from now. In this final stretch of the 2023 season, let's have another gathering of the Christmas Past family. Yes, it’s time once again for an episode dedicated just to you and your Christmas memories. Cozy up by the fire with us for a little Christmas reminiscing. 
    Music in this Episode "A Very Brady Special" — Kevin MacLeod, via Incompetech

    • 10 min
    Backstory — A Meatless Christmas Eve Meal

    Backstory — A Meatless Christmas Eve Meal

    For many families, the Christmas Eve feast is a so-called "meatless meal." It's a tradition of European Christian roots that has gone on to take many forms.
    Mentioned in this episode Plating Grace
    Music in this Episode "Italian Trip" — wildsound159, via Pixabay "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," — Don Maue, shared directly by the artist "First Snow" — Scott Buckley, via ScottBuckley.com.au "Silent Night" — DJ Williams, via Youtube Audio Library "Mortality" — Podington Bear, via Free Music Archive

    • 13 min
    A Visit to Old Fezziwig's Christmas Eve Ball

    A Visit to Old Fezziwig's Christmas Eve Ball

    Old Fezziwig sure knew how to throw an office Christmas party. Dickens's description of Christmas Eve in Fezziwig's counting house included vigorous fiddling and elaborate dancing. That style of dance may belong to a bygone time, but it lives on in the annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair. In this special episode, Cathleen Myers joins Christmas Past to explain how Victorians danced their way to Christmas.
    Mentioned in this Episode The Great Dickens Christmas Fair Period Events and Entertainments Re-Creation Society (Peers) Music in this Episode "Toe Tapper" — Primal House Music, via Pixabay "Ambient Grand Piano for Meditation or Background" — Julius H., via Pixabay

    • 7 min
    Backstory — Christmas Postage Stamps

    Backstory — Christmas Postage Stamps

    In the late nineteenth century modern postal systems were still coming into their own. Around the turn of the century, many countries, including England, began issuing Christmas themed postage stamps. You might think that America would have been among them, but boy would you be wrong. 
    In fact, America was one of the last countries to get on board. American Christmas stamps are only a few decades old. And the story there has to do with simple economics and America’s system of government.
    Mentioned in this Episode Christmas Philatelic Club
    Music in this Episode "Christmas Jazz" — Denys Kyshchuk, via Pixabay "Running Waters" — Audionautix, via Youtube Audio Library "Noel" — Audionautix, via Youtube Audio Library "Acoustic Guitar 1" — Audionautix, via Youtube Audio Library "Dreamland" — Aakash Gandhi, via Youtube Audio Library "Wish Background" — Kevin MacLeod, via Incompetech

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
745 Ratings

745 Ratings

CDSmith2468 ,

Absolutely fantastic!

My bride and I have listened since the first year this wonderful podcast came out and it is a Christmas time tradition for us to listen to each episode, usually listening in on older episodes as well during our numerous trips in the season. Brian Earl does an incredible job of bringing the history of the season and research we love to hear. Bought the book last year and read it again this year as well as recommended it to our family and friends. Just fantastic!

kjhgeirystowiyg ,

Good content

Overall very good. The technique if having the guest speak and then announcing “that was John Snith” gets tiresome. The use of “BCE” to mark time before Christ is offensive especially for a Christmas show. That is disappointing. But overall an enjoyable listen.

GuitarMick69 ,

What a gift!

This is from 2020 — I guess I never hit “Send!” ‘Christmas Past’ is well-researched, produced, and presented, and it had given me hours of listening pleasure this Christmas as I’m stuck in quarantine away from my family in my own house and hoping my COVID test comes back negative so I can join them Christmas Day. In any case, it answers a lot of questions that have popped into my mind each Christmas and which I never have the time to follow up on due to the hustle and bustle — sugar plums? Why Mistletoe? Who tells ghost stories at Christmas? I guess one positive of being in quarantine is that I can find the answers through this excellent podcast and also reflect on what is TRULY important at this, my favorite time of the year! Thanks, Brian Earl, for such a treasure to perpetuate the beauty of this season!

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