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The Hidden History of Holidays  By  cover art

The Hidden History of Holidays

By: Hannah Harvey, The Great Courses
Narrated by: Hannah Harvey
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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
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Chapter Fourteen – Lecture Thirteen
  • Chapter Fourteen – Lecture Thirteen
Mother's Day
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Chapter Nineteen – Lecture Eighteen
  • Chapter Nineteen – Lecture Eighteen
Halloween
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  • 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.