Christmas in Santa Barbara

Text and Photos of S.B. Christmases Past and Present

It’s Christmas once again in Santa Barbara (cue Barry DeVorzon’s hit song of the same name), and with the bows and wreaths comes the familiar nagging stress of holiday shopping. This year, nix the three-pack of tube socks and pick up a copy of Christmas in Santa Barbara, the latest book by longtime friends and Santa Barbarans Christine H. Lewis and Susan H. Lang. Together, this duo offers a hypnotizing collection of Santa Barbara history and photos of Christmases dating back nearly 300 years.

As Lewis and Lang state in the introduction, the book covers “Santa Barbara Christmases from Portola’s expedition of 1769 to the newly railroad town of 1887 to the snow barrels at the Coral Casino … in the 1950s.” Beginning with the founding of our small town, they chronicle some of Santa Barbara’s longest lasting traditions peppered with a healthy dose of black-and-white photos that expose only remnants of the Santa Barbara we appreciate today. Throughout the course of the text, the authors weave together historical and personal accounts from Santa Barbara residents — for example, there are several pages of sage quotes from the Old Mission’s Father Virgil Cordano, who passed away in 2008 — and even include recipes for holiday staples in our Spanish-influenced town such as tamales and empanadas.

The final pages of the paperback are dedicated to family photos of Lewis and Lang, and there are blank pages that invite the reader to paste pictures of their own family and friends “because every Christmas is worthy of remembrance,” the authors assert.

Christmas in Santa Barbara is a perfect tome for those interested in the traditions of our coastal town. For more information and to order a copy, visit

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