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Nostalgia for the imagined warm family gatherings of yesteryear has coloured our understanding of family celebrations. Elizabeth Pleck examines two centuries of changing family traditions and finds a complicated process of change in the way Americans celebrate holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year, and Passover, as well as the life cycle rituals of birth, coming of age, marriage, and death. By the early 19th century carnivalesque celebrations outside the home were becoming sentimental occasions that used consumer culture and displays of status and wealth to celebrate the idea of home and family. The 1960s saw the full emergence of a post-sentimental approach to holiday celebration, which takes place outside as often as inside the home, and recognises changes in the family and women's roles, as well as the growth of ethnic group consciousness. This multicultural, comparative history of American family celebration, rich in detail and spiced with telling anecdotes and illustrations and a keen sense of irony, offers insight into the significance of ethnicity and consumer culture in shaping what people regard as the most memorable moments of family life.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674002791
ISBN-10: 0674002792
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 155mm x 18mm)
Pages: 338
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 3-Jul-2000
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Elizabeth H. Pleck

Elizabeth Pleck is Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the author of Domestic Tyranny: The Making of Social Policy against Family Violence from Colonial Times to the Present.

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