Customs: The Great Festival

Nineveh saw nothing like it, Imperial Rome would have been abashed, and Solomon, in all his glory, could not have afforded it. It is America's great Christmas festival,

Across the nation, U.S. cities burst into calculated and bravura finery. Bright color blossomed where there was none before, drab public spaces were bathed in light, and people kissed (cheek to social cheek) who had never kissed before. As everyone knows—if reminded—Christmas Day itself marks the birth of Christ. But it is sometimes hard to remember in the weeks before. Instead, the chief big man seems to be that fellow Santa Claus,...

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