Christmas in Texas
Texana
7 x 10, 224 pp.
18 color photos., 28 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 10/01/1990
Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series
  paper
Price:        $17.95

978-0-89096-578-8
  cloth
Price:        $29.95

978-0-89096-446-0

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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1991 Publication Award, presented by the San Antonio Conservation Society

Christmas in Texas

By Elizabeth Silverthorne

Why do people kiss under the mistletoe? Is Santa Claus actually Turkish? And just what is lutefisk anyway? The answers to those questions and more lie between the covers of this beautiful volume.

Christmas in Texas shows how Texans have celebrated Christmas over four centuries, during good times and bad. The Texas holiday season is steeped in the rich legacy of the different ethnic groups represented here. The music, the food, the decorations, the secular fun and frolic have been imported to Texas by land and by sea, often as the nostalgic efforts of homesick immigrants to recreate memories of past Christmases in their homelands.

Elizabeth Silverthorne paints pictures of the different ethnic groups that have settled in Texas, showing what they kept uniquely theirs as well as what they changed to adapt to their new home. Walnuts had to be replaced in holiday cooking by Texas pecans, and the traditional fir Christmas tree gave way to the abundant Hill Country cedar.

We follow Las Posadas along the Riverwalk in San Antonio, predict the future with Poles and Czechs, shoot the anvil on the frontier, and go first-footing with the Scots. Recipes throughout add ethnic flavors, from Wendish coffee cake to Yugoslavian Christmas bread, from well-known buttermilk pie to exotic zabaglione.

Families today will look to this beautiful volume annually as they enjoy holiday traditions passed down to them. Ideal for reading and giving, it also will appeal to those who want to reminisce about the old ways, and those who want to learn more about their heritage and the holidays.

Elizabeth Silverthorne, author of the award-winning Ashbel Smith of Texas and Plantation Life in Texas, is a free-lance writer in Salado, Texas

What Readers Are Saying:

"Anyone who has ever been given the task of presenting a program about Christmas celebrations during the early years of . . . settlement in Texas knows that the assignment isn't as simple as it sounds. In the future, however, it will be much easier, thanks to a new book by Elizabeth Silverthorne. . . . Christmas in Texas isn't about buying gifts that cost more than you can afford, to give to people who don't particularly want them. It's about the wide range of Christmas customs and experiences, old-fashioned recipes and reminiscences of those who lived in Texas long before the era of twinkle lights, Barbie doll convertibles, and Nintendo games. . . . It is `Texanized' by the personal recollections of Christmases past."--Marie Beth Jones

"Anyone who has ever been given the task of presenting a program about Christmas celebrations during the early years of . . . settlement in Texas knows that the assignment isn't as simple as it sounds. In the future, however, it will be much easier, thanks to a new book by Elizabeth Silverthorne. . . . Christmas in Texas isn't about buying gifts that cost more than you can afford, to give to people who don't particularly want them. It's about the wide range of Christmas customs and experiences, old-fashioned recipes and reminiscences of those who lived in Texas long before the era of twinkle lights, Barbie doll convertibles, and Nintendo games. . . . It is `Texanized' by the personal recollections of Christmases past." --Marie Beth Jones

"It's a great book both for reading and for giving to others who are enchanted by Texas history." --Larry Lawrence

"With Christmas approaching, readers will enjoy perusing this book for customs to incorporate in their homes or to use to teach children the derivation of the traditions observed. Silverthorne's book is delightful." --Sally Dooley

". . . always, Silverthorne reveals the religious or secular significance behind each tradition. . . . Readers will likely turn first to the chapter describing their own ethnic heritage, and reminisce about traditions not thought of since childhood. For writing 'Christmas in Texas' Silverthorne should be heartily thanked for reminding us of things we never should have forgotten in the first place." --San Antonio Light

"This volume would make a nice addition to any Texas household's December decorations, and its contents should make great holiday reading for families. . . . The book is certain to win design awards and Silverthorne's exhaustive research is evident in both the text and the lengthy bibliography and notes. This Czech-Texan wishes you Vesele Vanoce!" --Judyth Rigler

"Candlelight dancing on shadowy walls, the music of carolers, and the aroma of freshly baked cookies and Christmas greenery seem to rise from this Christmas compendium like incense. . . . While the general public will enjoy this book, the style, the thorough bibliography, and index make this book a perfect resource for teachers and middle school students." --Sally Dooley

"Its mixture of charm, wit and practicality would even turn a Texas Scrooge into a right jolly old elf." --Charles Edgren

"This handsomely designed, pleasant book will appeal to readers who prefer their Christmas reading to be mostly in the traditional mode. Elizabeth Silverthorne has researched the history of Christmas in Texas with emphasis on contributions made by various ethnic groups." --John Edward Weems

"Crossing what is now called the Rio Gande into what is now Presidio County, a detachment of Spanish soldiers, assigned to explore the kingdom of Texas," paused on Dec. 25, 1683, to celebrate the birth of Christ. That ceremony was the first Christmas in Texas--or so I thought. Elizabeth Silverthorne of Salado, researching her new book Christmas in Texas, dug up older references to Christmas (or Christ Mass)." --Kent Biffle

What! Still stuck for a gift? Here are some more titles you may want to consider as Christmas draws near. The yuletide season in Texas hasn't been all merry, gentlemen, as you can quickly learn from a fascinating new book called Christmas in Texas . . . " --Houston Chronicle

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