Author Mark Forsyth, who specialises in the meaning and etymology of English words, has moved to publisher Viking from Icon Books.
Forsyth, the writer behind The Etymologicon (Icon), will publish his next book with Viking in autumn 2016.
A Christmas Cornucopia: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Yuletide Traditions will look at the origins and etymologies behind the season's familiar customs, explaining why we celebrate on 25th December, how a Munich housewife invented the advent calendar, why there are 13 Santas in Iceland and why people in Aberdeen used to celebrate Christmas by cross-dressing.
Forsyth is known for his blog The Inky Fool, and books The Etymologicon and The Horologicon (Icon) that were both BBC Radio 4 books of the week. He has written a specially commissioned essay "The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted" for Independent Booksellers Week and the introduction for the new edition of Collins English Dictionary.
Daniel Crewe, publisher for Viking, bought world rights from Julia Kingsford at Kingsford Campbell.
Forsyth said: “I've spent this Christmas boring my family senseless about the origins of Christmas crackers and why there should really be a snake on the Christmas tree, and next Christmas I hope, with the help of the lovely people at Viking, to bore the whole nation. It's astonishing the things you can find out about Brussels sprouts.”
Crewe said: “Our strange habits are a perfect subject for Mark’s wonderful writing. It’s great to think, as we take down the last of the decorations, that there’ll be another fantastically informative and entertaining Forsyth special this Christmas.”