In Cincinnati, we embrace our holiday traditions; these books help tell the history –

December 12, 2021 by No Comments

Why are we so interested in the past at Christmas time?

So many songs and movies of the season hinge on trying to recapture cherished Christmases of yesteryear, “just like the ones I used to know.” Replaying a favorite, comfortable memory.

Our holiday traditions are our history. Whether it’s our German heritage or Catholic rituals, our fondness for the Christmases of our childhood or the happy haunts of loved ones no longer with us.

Charles Dickens even starts Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformative journey by looking backward. Then there’s the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago. The past is ingrained in what Christmas is.

Here in Cincinnati, we embrace our traditions. And what is a tradition if we can’t hand it down to the next generation?

That’s why we take our kids to the same Duke Energy Holiday Trains we remember, trudge through freezing temperatures to see the zoo’s Festival of Lights every year and dress up to watch “The Nutcracker” for the umpteenth time.

“The most important function of holiday rituals is their role in maintaining and strengthening family ties,” writes Dimitris Xygalatas, an anthropology professor at University of Connecticut.

The authors of a couple of books on Christmas in Cincinnati offer some insight on the city’s embrace of holiday traditions of yore.

Our history: The history of our favorite Cincinnati holiday traditions

Nostalgia and the arts

Wendy Hart Beckman’s new book, “Christmas in Cincinnati,” is a comprehensive history of how Cincinnatians have celebrated the holidays that winds up as a sort of guide on how we can continue to do so.

Beckman covers all the local traditions, from shopping to what we eat and where we see the best festive light displays. Everything from charities to craft fairs, ice skating to our love-hate relationship with snow. (Note: The book is replete with dozens of historic photos from The Enquirer archives.)

“I have always loved Christmas. It’s my favorite day of the year,” Beckman said. “In fact, when I was a child I’…….



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