rusq: Vol. 51 Issue 4: p. 373
Sources: Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations
Amanda Sprochi

Health Sciences Cataloger, The University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri

Religious Celebrations is a two-volume set from ABC-Clio which purports to offer “the most comprehensive coverage of religious holidays ever assembled” (back cover). With over eight hundred entries, it may be hard to quibble with the comprehensive claim. Unfortunately, what it provides in quantity does not make up for its lack of quality. Edited by J. Gordon Melton, professor of American religious history at Baylor, and written by Melton and ten other contributors, this resource is poorly written, poorly researched, and poorly edited. Articles contain numerous typographical errors, punctuation mistakes, and grammatical inconsistencies; for example, “Diwali is the most observed holiday in India It [sic] is especially important for Hindus, but other communities have developed parallel celebrations, just as different groups in North America celebrate the Christmas season, though pouring [sic] widely variant content” (255). Also perplexing is the coverage of the encyclopedia. The Bahá’í faith is more comprehensively discussed than Islam, for example, undoubtedly dueto the fact that one of the contributors is a Bahá’í expert, but the gaps are disappointing. Choice of authorship for individual entries is another puzzling aspect of this set. Contributors to this volume include a Jewish historian, but many of the articles dealing with Jewish religious celebrations—including Hanukkah and Passover—are written by Dr. Melton.

Most troubling is the apparent lack of research on many of the subjects. Non-Christian topics rely heavily on articles taken from the Internet, with little indication of other sources used. The article on the Nepalese holiday of Gathemangal , for example, lists one reference,, and the essay itself is nothing more than a liberal paraphrasing of the information from the website. The entry on Ethopian Easter, heavily paraphrased from an article from the Palestine Monitor website, lists as its only other reference a book published in 1970.

There are several other good resources for holidays and celebrations, including Facts on File's Encyclopedia of Holidays and Celebrations (2006) and Holidays, Festivals and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, 4th ed. (Omnigraphics, 2009). The latter is considered a standard reference in this area and is less costly than Religious Celebrations, and libraries would be well advised to invest their acquisitions money here. Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations cannot be recommended.

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