Marriage & Death Customs – Holiday Celebrations – Festivals

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

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.

Century Past Library


Customs and Traditions

Holiday Celebrations

Customs and Traditions

Customs & Traditions Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Customs and Traditions”. Be patient as the page loads.

Festivals Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Festivals”. Be patient as the page loads.

Weddings Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Weddings”. Be patient as the page loads.

Funeral Rites and Ceremonies Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Funeral Rites and Ceremonies”. Be patient as the page loads.

The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History

Ashenburg, Katherine
Northpoint 2007        Dewey Dec.    391

“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

The author “takes an in-depth look at the history and popularity of the American ‘white wedding’ and in doing so provides a unique exploration of late 20th and early 21st-century American culture. She starts right after World War II and progresses through celebrity, royal, and movie weddings to the ‘reality weddings’ of today and how the ritual of a white wedding has been adapted in many same-sex marriages. … An enlightening and fascinating read, her book is sure to be of interest in most libraries.” -Libr J

Also see our collection of Popular Cultural History Articles: Clothes – Food – Recreation

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-In-Training

Jokinen, Tom
Da Capo 2010        Dewey Dec.    393

“The narrative pinballs between the many roles Jokinen takes on within the industry—hearse driver, embalming assistant, theatrically solemn host who gestures at coat racks and restrooms. All the while, Jokinen dutifully remains the voice of the curious reader, channeling skepticism, the weirds and awe into laugh-out-loud observations grounded in just enough research to provide context without weighing down the plot.” -PopMatters

Digging up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials

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

“Kammen has a good sense of the details that make historical stories memorable. His occasional flashes of humor add a winsome, professionally geeky element to the telling.” -Dallas Morning News

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

Laderman, Gary
Oxford Univ. 2006        Dewey Dec.    393

This book explores “the world of death specialists, the development of their profession in post-Civil War America, and the profession’s role in American culture…. The topics covered . . . include embalming, the repatriation of wartime remains, the rise of corporate facilities, the AIDS epidemic, and cultural representations such as The Night of the Living Dead and Six Feet Under. . . . Laderman’s respect, even affection, for the profession is clearly evident, but he maintains objectivity throughout. Especially impressive is his treatment of {Jessica} Mitford, whose accusations he challenges politely but thoroughly.” -Libr J

See our collection of Etiquette Guides and Advice

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.” -Publisher

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

Pringle, Heather Anne
Hyperion 2001        Dewey Dec.    393

“Besides outstanding members of the scientific association that gathers as the Mummy Congress, Pringle limns the many varieties of mummies, from the world’s oldest, preserved by the high-altitude climate of the Andes, to modem Communist dictators, self-mummifying Buddhists, and the subjects of extreme cosmetic surgery. More astounding than all the fright flicks about shambling, gauze-wrapped menaces wound together.” -Booklist


Holiday Celebrations

Holiday Celebrations Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Holiday Celebrations”. Be patient as the page loads.

Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday

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

The author shows “how Thanksgiving is seen through each generation’s reality, having morphed from a holiday for pilgrim hats and turkeys to a cause for Native American protests to a holy day to several ancient holidays combined and a full-scale orgy of food and football. . . . [This is] an enjoyable, fascinating read both for students and for anyone looking for a good story.” -Libr J

Christmas: A Candid History

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

The author “presents a brief social history of Christmas from pre-Christian winter celebrations to the commercialization of the holiday in American popular culture. The growth of the holiday to include Christmas cards, music and movies are included in this easy to read overview.”

Encyclopedia of Christmas & New Year’s Celebrations

Gulevich, Tanya
Omnigraphics 2003        Dewey Dec.    394.26

The author “covers a variety of secular and sacred aspects of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. . . . This encyclopedic work is useful for those schools where folklore is covered, or for those interested in origins of the holidays.” -Libr Media Connect

Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary

Henderson, Helene
Omnigraphics 2005        Dewey Dec.    394.26

Detailing nearly 2,500 observances from all 50 states and more than 100 nations : a compendious reference guide to popular, ethnic, religious, national, and ancient holidays.

Century Past Library