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Publisher's Summary

What are the origins of dressing in costume for Halloween? Why did the barbecue grill become an iconic image for Father’s Day?

From Halloween costumes to patriotic parades to belly-busting meals, every holiday tradition tells a unique story—one encoded in symbols and layered meanings that stretch back over the centuries. In 19 lectures, professional storyteller Dr. Hannah B. Harvey takes listeners through the seasons and investigates the surprising stories behind seemingly odd holiday traditions. Dr. Harvey explores the social, political, and performative history of holidays, ranging from Hanukkah and Mardi Gras to Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving, illustrating the way traditions survive across time and cultures.

In these fascinating lectures, Dr. Harvey turns the spotlight on the histories of American and international holidays, and listeners will discover the answers to such questions as:

  • How did Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria save Christmas from disappearing into obscurity in the 19th century?
  • Why is "Auld Lang Syne" considered the "official" song of New Year’s celebrations?
  • How did the iconic masculine images of fishing rods, barbecue grills, and lying in hammocks become synonymous with Father’s Day?
  • Why should we thank ancient Rome’s Romulus and Remus for Valentine’s Day?
  • To what cultures do we owe such loveable creatures as Easter bunnies and spring-predicting groundhogs?
  • Why did Puritans seek to stamp out Christmas celebrations in America?
  • How are the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria and today’s April Fool’s Day alike?

The Hidden History of Holidays is an eye-opening and entertaining look at what makes these festive celebrations so pervasive and powerful. By the end of these lectures, listeners will never think about greeting cards, broomsticks, or barbecues in the same way again.

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from The Hidden History of the Holidays

Chapter Three – Lecture Two
  • Chapter Three – Lecture Two
Christmas
-0.00
Chapter Fourteen – Lecture Thirteen
  • Chapter Fourteen – Lecture Thirteen
Mother's Day
-0.00
Chapter Nineteen – Lecture Eighteen
  • Chapter Nineteen – Lecture Eighteen
Halloween
-0.00
  • Chapter Three – Lecture Two
  • Christmas
  • Chapter Fourteen – Lecture Thirteen
  • Mother's Day
  • Chapter Nineteen – Lecture Eighteen
  • Halloween

Publisher's Summary

What are the origins of dressing in costume for Halloween? Why did the barbecue grill become an iconic image for Father’s Day?

From Halloween costumes to patriotic parades to belly-busting meals, every holiday tradition tells a unique story—one encoded in symbols and layered meanings that stretch back over the centuries. In 19 lectures, professional storyteller Dr. Hannah B. Harvey takes listeners through the seasons and investigates the surprising stories behind seemingly odd holiday traditions. Dr. Harvey explores the social, political, and performative history of holidays, ranging from Hanukkah and Mardi Gras to Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving, illustrating the way traditions survive across time and cultures.

In these fascinating lectures, Dr. Harvey turns the spotlight on the histories of American and international holidays, and listeners will discover the answers to such questions as:

  • How did Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria save Christmas from disappearing into obscurity in the 19th century?
  • Why is "Auld Lang Syne" considered the "official" song of New Year’s celebrations?
  • How did the iconic masculine images of fishing rods, barbecue grills, and lying in hammocks become synonymous with Father’s Day?
  • Why should we thank ancient Rome’s Romulus and Remus for Valentine’s Day?
  • To what cultures do we owe such loveable creatures as Easter bunnies and spring-predicting groundhogs?
  • Why did Puritans seek to stamp out Christmas celebrations in America?
  • How are the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria and today’s April Fool’s Day alike?

The Hidden History of Holidays is an eye-opening and entertaining look at what makes these festive celebrations so pervasive and powerful. By the end of these lectures, listeners will never think about greeting cards, broomsticks, or barbecues in the same way again.

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.
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About the Professor

Dr. Hannah B. Harvey is an award-winning teacher, an internationally recognized performer, and a nationally known professional storyteller. She earned her PhD in Performance Studies/Communication Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While teaching at Kennesaw State University, she received an Honors Program Distinguished Teacher award and an Alumni Association Commendation for Teaching Impact. As a performance ethnographer, Dr. Harvey develops oral histories into theatrical and solo storytelling works that highlight the true stories of contemporary Appalachian people. Her performance, Out of the Dark: The Oral Histories of Appalachian Coal Miners, earned her a directing award from adjudicators at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2007 and three year-end awards from professional critics in 2005. Harvey’s written research has been honored by the American Folklore Society and has been featured in Storytelling, Self, and Society, of which she is managing editor.

Dr. Harvey has delivered award-winning performances and has conducted workshops at festivals and universities in the United States and around the world. She has performed as a featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Tennessee; received accolades for her performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland; and led intercultural workshops at the University Hassan II, Ben M’Sik, in Casablanca, Morocco.

What listeners say about The Hidden History of Holidays

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An enjoyable listen, but a few inaccuracies

The subject is a fun listen for those who would like a broad overview of the holidays. For the most part it is educational. For history buffs though there are some inaccuracies that will be annoying.One slight slip is thinking Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar are the same person. They are not. They are two different people. August is not another name for Julius Caesar, the conqueror/genocidal maniac of Gaul, it is instead for his adopted son Octavius. Who changed his name to Julius Caesar after the adoption and later given the title Augustus by the senate. A little thing, but the historian in me gets irked.

Another inaccuracy that comes to mind is the Christmas truce of 1914. While in 1917 the American troops may have seen some semblance of the 1914 truce, it certainly wasn't the famous truce of 1914. Americans had not entered the war at that point. I will concede that there may have been volunteer American solders at the time. The way she presents it, is as if the American expeditionary force was present for the 1914 truce.

59 people found this helpful

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Narrator is used to voicing children’s books, almost unbearable as an adult

Wow if you like a lot of emotions, expectant pauses and exclamations you may enjoy this book. I do not like being read to like I’m three years old and fidgety. Good info, I’d like to read it myself without the little smiles and nudges bleh

10 people found this helpful

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Great Only If You’re Christian

My husband and I started listening while we were in the car. After a half hour, we were completely done. With the exception of one mention of Thanksgiving, every example was about Christmas or Easter.

We felt her lectures were very one sided and aimed at a Christian audience. This may be the result of her educational and life experiences, but I wish we were forewarned.

31 people found this helpful

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Eh. Not worth the time

Each lecture begins with a totally annoying series of people telling personal stories of the holidays; the lectures themselves are ok, but many are cursory. And the Professor mispronounces many words. Don't waste any money on this.

9 people found this helpful

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Very Interesting

Good stories on how the holidays came to be. But not for children. I think children should have rhe pleasure of the make believe and when we grow up we can learn the real story.

4 people found this helpful

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Poor performance

For a so-called storyteller, the narrator is trying too hard. So much so that it is irritating. I could not finish. In addition, for somebody with all the degrees she claims having, a lot of grammatical errors, sentences ending in “at” or “in”. Finally, I think that some of her facts are wrong.

3 people found this helpful

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Some interesting facts, but....

....I'm not OK with the painfully white-culture-centric nature of her explanation of so many holidays. While it's probably impossible to know some of the true origins of present day practices, some of the information shared in this "course" is highly suspect and easily found to be in error with just a bit of scholarly research (I'm a librarian--seeking out verification is almost a pathology for me). If you're a White, christian, U.S. southerner, you will probably relate to much of what she focuses on. If you deviate at all from that background, prepare to feel excluded.

2 people found this helpful

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wonderful discussion on the origins of holidays.

I recommend this for everyone. it is great to know where holidays come from. the pagan origins of most Christian holidays is very interesting.

2 people found this helpful

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This is His Story...

This is the story the pope wiuld have you believe. This is not the actual origins of our holy days. While there are definitely interesting events, technology and stories in this book, they fall short of truly authentic origins. Example, a priest saw snow shining on an evergreen tree, he thought it was beautiful and had one brought in and decorated... or some none sense like that. There are literally hundreds of winter solstice festivals, many revering evergreen trees, yet she professes catholic priests originated our modes of celebration. I haven't gotten through Easter, but no mention of fertility yet... bunnies and eggs!

1 person found this helpful

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Very interesting information!

I enjoyed both the speaker's voice and the information provided. You will learn a lot about US holidays.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Sarah Robinson: Author of 'Yoga for Witches' & ‘Yin Magic’
  • Sarah Robinson: Author of 'Yoga for Witches' & ‘Yin Magic’
  • 11-01-21

Some terrible inaccuracies

A fact checker or historian might have been useful in editing this to something closer to accurate

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Profile Image for Deirdre E Siegel
  • Deirdre E Siegel
  • 10-20-21

'holidays' explained

Some good history then,
how celebratory days became profit driven commercialism for the States of America.
Likeable listen, thanks Hannah :-)