Instructor's new book explores the characters, evolution of Christmas

December 11, 2014

Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, the Magi, Scrooge, the Yule Cat and the Krampus are just a few of the characters associated with Christmas. Tara Moore, part-time instructor in English at Penn State York, explores a variety of characters and the evolution of Christmas in her new book, “Christmas: The Sacred to Santa.”  

The book, published by the London-based Reaktion Books, is 224 pages of information describing Christmas and the traditions that bind a culture to its version of it. Moore began researching Christmas for her doctoral dissertation and then in 2011, she was contacted by Reaktion to write a book. Moore is also the author of “Victorian Christmas in Print,” published in 2009.

Moore probes the questions surrounding the actual date of Christ’s birth to frictions between the sacred and the secular. She discusses the characters associated with the holiday’s celebration from the jolly fat man Santa to the frightening Krampus. She also explores how customs such as Christmas trees, feasting and gift giving became central facets of the holiday, while also examining how Christmas has been portrayed in culture from the literary works of Charles Dickens to the holiday films, television specials and traditional carols associated with it.

In addition to writing the book, Moore also took a variety of photos of local Christmas symbols and while traveling abroad took photos in China, Scandinavia and Germany, which are included in the book.

A part-time faculty member at Penn State York since 2006, Moore teaches a number of writing courses including rhetoric and composition, and effective writing: technical writing. She resides in Red Lion with her family.

  • The Krampus Photo

    Krampus is the dark companion of St. Nicholas, the traditional European winter gift-bringer who rewards good children each year Dec. 6. The kindly saint leaves the job of punishing bad children to a hell-bound counterpart known by many names across the continent — Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, Klaubauf and Krampus. Krampus punishes the naughty children, swatting them with switches and rusty chains before dragging them, in baskets, to a fiery place below.

    IMAGE: Barbara Dennis
  • Nisse from Denmark

    Tara Moore's book explores the many characters, both good and bad, associated with Christmas in her new book, "Christmas:  The Sacred to Santa."  A variety of photos are included in her work including some of the Nisse from Denmark, mythological creatures from Scandinavian folklore typically associated with the winter solstice and the Christmas season. 

    IMAGE: Barbara Dennis
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Last Updated January 09, 2015