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Marriage & Death Customs – Holiday Celebrations – Festivals – Free eBooks

Free online books about cultural customs, rites and traditions of death and marriage, celebration of American holidays, and festivals.

Customs, Rites & Traditions

Holiday Celebrations


Hint: When a book you want to borrow at Internet Archive is already checked out, go to the Internet Archive’s ‘Search’ box, check “Search Metadata”, and search for the book’s title. Sometimes they have two or more copies.


Customs, Rites & Traditions

Customs & Traditions Collection

Nearly 600 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Customs and Traditions”. Some books: Naval Ceremonies Customs and Traditions, Catholic Customs and Traditions, A Treasury of American Folklore: our legends customs and beliefs, North American Indian Life: customs and traditions of 23 tribes, Our Best Loved Customs and Traditions, Ancient and Annual Customs, Culture and Customs of Spain, 101 Things Everyone Should Know about Judaism, Irish Life and Traditions, Culture and Customs of Somalia, Folk Customs, many more.

Festivals Collection

About 500 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Festivals”. Be patient as the page loads. Some books: Festivals Around the World, A Year of Japanese Festivals, Merrymaking in Great Britain, Mexico’s Great Celebrations, Folk Festivals: a handbook for organization and management, Indiana Festivals, Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide, Muhammadan Festivals, Essays on the Festival, International Directory of Theatre Dance and Folklore Festivals, Festivals Europe, many more.

Weddings Collection

About 950 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Weddings”. Be patient as the page loads. Some books: Wedding Details FAQ’s, The Bride Guide, The Wedding Album, 14 Day Wedding Planner, The Complete Wedding Organizer and Record, 1001 Wedding Ideas, Budget Weddings for Dummies, A Perfect Home Wedding, Ways to Have a Dazzling Second Wedding, The Wedding Book, many more.

Marriage Customs and Rites Collection

About 130 books from the Internet Archive free online on the subject of Marriage Customs and Rites. Some books: Marriage Customs in Many Lands, A Short History of Marriage, How the World Weds, The New Jewish Wedding, Love and Marriage Around the World, Strange Customs of Courtship and Marriage, Marriage Ceremonies of All Nations, The World of Weddings: an illustrated celebration, many more.

Funeral Rites and Ceremonies Collection

About 180 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Funeral Rites and Ceremonies”. Some books: A Guide to the World’s Weirdest Funerals, Life’s End: ceremonies and celebrations, Island Funeral, The Funeral Book, Death: a user’s guide, Good Grief I have to Plan a Funeral, Making an Exit, A Guide to Funeral Planning, When Death Touches Your Life, The Complete Guide to Funeral Planning, many more.

Newspaper archives online free here at Century Past.

The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History

Ashenburg, Katherine
Northpoint 2007 Dewey Dec. 391

What could be more routine than taking up soap and water and washing yourself? And yet cleanliness, or the lack of it, is intimately connected to ideas as large as spirituality and sexuality, and historical events that include plagues, the Civil War, and the discovery of germs. An engrossing fusion of erudition and anecdote, Clean considers the bizarre prescriptions of history’s doctors, the hygienic peccadilloes of great authors, and the historic twists and turns that have brought us to a place Ashenburg considers hedonistic yet oversanitized.
“Brimming with lively anecdotes, this well-researched, smartly paced and endearing history of Western cleanliness holds a welcome mirror up to our intimate selves, revealing deep-seated desires and fears spanning 2000-plus years.” -Publ Wkly

It’s Our Day: America’s Love Affair with the Wedding, 1945-2005

Jellison, Katherine
Univ. of Kansas 2008 Dewey Dec. 392

For years, a white-gowned bride, multi-tiered white cake, and shiny gold rings have been the central icons for a grand American tradition that remains vibrant despite changing times. Now Katherine Jellison gives us a comprehensive cultural history of American weddings since World War II, examining the development of our precise and expensive standards for celebrating weddings and the staying power of this phenomenon in the face of enormous social, political, and economic upheaval.
Engagingly written and lavishly illustrated, It’s Our Day tells how a fantasy event survived counterculture movements and organized feminism to become a multi-billion-dollar industry supporting clothiers, caterers, jewelers, and florists. But more than an expos of commercialism, it is a testament to the flexibility of the dream it represents.

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-In-Training

Jokinen, Tom
Da Capo 2010 Dewey Dec. 393

At forty-four Tom Jokinen began to seriously question the secular funeral rites that are taking over the industry: is this really the way we want to say our final goodbyes? The question had such a hard grip on his Finnish soul that he decided to quit his job in order to become an apprentice undertaker. Curtains is about what he found, from the mundane to the macabre. Among the things he learned: in cremation, the heart and head are the last parts to burn; purple lipstick looks best on a dead man; funeral directors have been known to dance during the service – out of sight of funeral goers, of course, and with the utmost respect for the dead. For anyone who’s secretly wondered why they paid $2000 for a 5-lb bag of dust – or questioned whether that dust was really the person they loved – Curtains lifts the veil on the funeral industry in the 21st century.

Digging up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials

Kammen, Michael G.
Univ. of Chicago 2010 Dewey Dec. 393

With Digging Up the Dead, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Michael Kammen reveals a treasure trove of fascinating, surprising, and occasionally gruesome stories of exhumation and reburial throughout American history. Taking us to the contested grave sites of such figures as Sitting Bull, John Paul Jones, Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Boone, Jefferson Davis, and even Abraham Lincoln, Kammen explores how complicated interactions of regional pride, shifting reputations, and evolving burial practices led to public and often emotional battles over the final resting places of famous figures. Grave-robbing, skull-fondling, cases of mistaken identity, and the financial lures of cemetery tourism all come into play as Kammen delves deeply into this little-known—yet surprisingly persistent—aspect of American history.

Rest in Peace: A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America

Laderman, Gary
Oxford Univ. 2006 Dewey Dec. 393

Though it has often been passionately criticized–as fraudulent, exploitative, even pagan–the American funeral home has become nearly as inevitable as death itself, an institution firmly embedded in our culture. But how did the funeral home come to hold such a position? What is its history? And is it guilty of the charges sometimes leveled against it?
In Rest in Peace, Gary Laderman traces the origins of American funeral rituals, from the evolution of embalming techniques during and after the Civil War and the shift from home funerals to funeral homes at the turn of the century, to the increasing subordination of priests, ministers, and other religious figures to the funeral director throughout the twentieth century.
Drawing upon interviews with funeral directors, major historical events like the funerals of John F. Kennedy and Rudolf Valentino, films, television, newspaper reports, proposals for funeral reform, and other primary sources, Rest in Peace cuts through the rhetoric to show us the reality–and the real cultural value–of the American funeral.

Marriage Customs of the World: From Henna to Honeymoons

Monger, George P.
ABC-CLIO 2004 Dewey Dec. 392

An encyclopedia of marriage rites, traditions, and beliefs from around the world, ranging from ancient practices to contemporary ceremonies.
Marriage Customs of the World: From Henna to Honeymoons cordially invites you to explore the rites, rituals, and iconography of weddings from around the globe. In more than 200 alphabetically organized entries, an accomplished folklorist describes the key components and beliefs related to marriage across a representative selection of the world’s cultures.

The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead

Pringle, Heather Anne
Hyperion 2001 Dewey Dec. 393

When acclaimed science journalist Heather Pringle was dispatched to a remote part of northern Chile to cover a little-known scientific conference, she found herself in the midst of the most passionate gathering of her working life — dozens of mummy experts lodged in a rambling seaside hotel, battling over the implications of their latest discoveries. Infected with their mania, Pringle spent the next year circling the globe, stopping in to visit the leading scientists so she could see firsthand the breathtaking delicacy and unexpected importance of their work.
In The Mummy Congress, she recounts the intriguing findings from her travels, bringing to life the hitherto unknown worlds of the long-dead, and revealing what mummies have to tell us about ourselves. Pringle’s journeys lead her to the lifelike remains of medieval saints entombed in Italy’s grand cathedrals, eerily preserved bog bodies in the Netherlands bearing signs of violent and untimely slaughter, and frozen Inca princess glimpsed for the first time atop icy mountains.


Holiday Celebrations

Holiday Celebrations Collection

About 200 books from the Internet Archive free online on the subject of Holiday Celebrations. Some books: The Latino Holiday Book, The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen, World Holiday Festival and Calendar Books, All Around the Year: holidays and celebrations, Upcycling Celebrations: a use-what-you-have guide, Cookbook for Special Occasions, Simple Steps for Every Holiday, O Christmas Tree: its history and holiday traditions, many more.

Holidays Collection

More than 600 books from the Internet Archive free online on the subject of Holidays. Some books: Haiti Through Its Holidays, Stories of the World’s Holidays, National Holidays Around the World, Gold Medal Plays for Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Grandma’s Holidays, The Book of (Holiday) Awesome, Holiday Songbook, How we Celebrate our Fall Holidays, Kate’s Paperie recommends 50 Best Wonderful Things to Do at the Holidays, many more.

Be patient while the page loads.

American Christmas Stories Collection

About 100 books from the Internet Archive free online on the subject of American Christmas Stories. Some books: Lipstick Like Lindsay’s and other Christmas Stories, The Best of Christmas in my Heart: timeless stories, Christmas in My Soul: a second collection, When Love Came Down at Christmas, Twelve Tales of Christmas, Glad Tidings: the Christmas reader, Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury, many more.

Thanksgiving Day Collection

About 200 books from the Internet Archive free online on the subject of Thanksgiving Day. Some books: Thanksgiving Day in Canada, A Child’s Story of Thanksgiving, The Thanksgiving Book, The Story of Thanksgiving, The Story of Thanksgiving Symbols, Thanksgiving and Harvest, Louisa May Alcott’s Old Fashioned Thanksgiving and other Stories, The First Thanksgiving Feast, many more (& lots of children’s books).

Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday

Baker, James W.
Univ. of New Hampshire 2009 Dewey Dec. 394.26

James Baker sweeps away lingering myths and misconceptions to show how this celebration day was born and grew to be an essential part of our national spirit. Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday opens with an overview of the popular mythos of the holiday before discussing its possible religious and cultural precedents. This classic Yankee holiday is examined in historical and contemporary detail that embraces everything from proclamations, sermons, and local and regional traditions to family reunions, turkey dinners, and recipes.

Christmas: A Candid History

Forbes, Bruce David
Univ. of California 2007 Dewey Dec. 394.26

Provides an enlightening, entertaining perspective on how the annual Yuletide celebration got to be what it is today. In a fascinating, concise tour through history, the book tells the story of Christmas—from its pre-Christian roots, through the birth of Jesus, to the holiday’s spread across Europe into the Americas and beyond, and to its mind-boggling transformation through modern consumerism. Packed with intriguing stories, based on research into myriad sources, full of insights, the book explores the historical origins of traditions including Santa, the reindeer, gift giving, the Christmas tree, Christmas songs and movies, and more. The book also offers some provocative ideas for reclaiming the joy and meaning of this beloved, yet often frustrating, season amid the pressures of our fast-paced consumer culture.

Encyclopedia of Christmas & New Year’s Celebrations

Gulevich, Tanya
Omnigraphics 2003 Dewey Dec. 394.26

Containing 247 entries on Christmas traditions spanning centuries and continents, this encyclopedia looks at folk customs and beliefs, foods and beverages, artistic and popular works, and related celebrations from antiquity to the present. While entries lean heavily toward customs of medieval and Renaissance Europe, there are many entries on the Christmas season in other parts of the world.

Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary

Henderson, Helene
Omnigraphics 2005 Dewey Dec. 394.26

Contains up-to-date information on more than 2,000 holidays and festivals worldwide, as well as the more obscure celebrations and observances. Emphasis is placed on events that are still current, but a number of ancient and discontinued events are included because they are referred to in art and literature. Most entries have national or wide regional significance, but also included are offbeat, colorful, local, and lesser-known events.