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Old Christmas (Illustrated Edition) Paperback – January 18, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1848302310 ISBN-10: 1848302312

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Wildhern Press (January 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848302312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848302310
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.2 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,257,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Irving's 1875 volume of English Christmas traditions preceded Dickens's A Christmas Carol by more than 20 years. This edition also sports 120 black-and-white drawings from the original printing. Libraries would do well to start their Christmas shopping early with this handsomely illustrated volume.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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One of the very best parts of this book is the lovely contemporary illustrations.
Cynthia
The detailed and charming illustrations by Randolph Caldecott (for whom the Caldecott award was named) add a great deal to the text.
AB
Very enjoyable reading for those who like to pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and escape to a simpler, more elegant time.
C. Ferry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By I. Westray on December 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"But is old, old, good old Christmas gone? Nothing but the hair of his good, gray, old head and beard left? Well, I will have that, seeing that I cannot have more of him."
-- "Hue and Cry after Christmas," from the opening page of Old Christmas.
This book is what Washington Irving called a "sketchbook" -- a collection of impressions about something, gathered into a fictionalized story. It's a melancholy, fond evocation of fading English Christmas traditions of the author's time.
The story's simple: Irving sets himself in the English countryside, where he's travelling one Christmas Eve. At a country inn he runs into an old schoolmate, who invites him home to spend Christmas at the family estate. The friend's father, it turns out, dotes on all things Christmas, and has tuned his household to some of the more quaint and obscure English traditions celebrating the day. That lets Irving include lots of odd little bits and pieces of Christmas tradition, told through the old man, as part of his plot. The book covers a night and a day. The chapters are pieces of that time: the stagecoach ride is one chapter, then "Christmas Eve," and so on through "Christmas Dinner."
I read this every year lately, and it's a nice, low-key, sad and happy little way to mark the Christmases passing. Washington Irving wrote it in the early 1800s -- the dates of most of his "Sketch Book" are right around 1819 or 1820 -- and the story is mostly a reminiscence about even earlier Christmas traditions. Then it took until 1894 for this edition to be printed, with the illustrations by Caldecott. Later the facsimile edition I have was printed, in maybe the early 1980s... For a little book about Christmas past to have made it through all those years, and come down to me in this personal "sketch," is a glad thing.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C. Ferry on January 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Very enjoyable reading for those who like to pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and escape to a simpler, more elegant time. Those who enjoy Christmas stories, or Anglophiles who can never get enough of English history will enjoy this insight into an Old English Christmas from one who was there.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia on December 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
What a quaint old book this is! Washington Irving is best known for spooky stories set in the early part of 18th century America but here he looks back to the England that he traveled to in his younger days. There's a grand old country family with it's patriarch who entertains his extended family and even part of the village he heads. Irving describes these pre-Victorian (where lots of our modern traditions hail from) traditions as simple but still very enjoyable. As will most likely always be the case food and drink are a very important part of the celebrations as well as decorative greenery and children's games. In this case Squire Birchbridge, as he's known by all, has a right hand man who's a distant relative who keeps things organized and moving along by herding the children, letting visitors know of the family traditions, and even preparing the Christmas Wassail. The Squire delights in the country customs and shuns London for his country life preferring to read books from previous eras that describe English country gentlemen's lives. He's also a keen amateur musician.....ok not exactly a musician but he does like to hunt out old verse and put it to traditional hymns and get the locals to perform them.

Here's one of my favorite passages from the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By AB on January 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I've been a student of holiday history for more than 30 years. I can't believe I never came across this book until now. Anyone who enjoys Washington Irving (Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle) or Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol) will enjoy this book. It's a proper old English Christmas, the type undoubtedly celebrated by Mr. Darcy at his manor in Pride & Prejudice or by the family in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. For those who have read extensively on pagan origins of modern holiday celebrations or have read about medieval customs (lord of misrule, etc.), much will be familiar. It is all here - the ancient manor house in the country, the huge yule log burning on the hearth, the old harper in the corner, the boar's head, the peacock pie, the wassail bowl, all the games - snapdragon, blind man's bluff, etc. There are visits from Morris dancers and singing by village waites under the window. The journey by coach through the countryside, the shadowy darkness, the warmth and welcome of Christmas Eve, the church service and light of Christmas Day, the merrymaking by young and old alike, the generosity of the Christmas Day Dinner - all described in lavish and loving detail. The detailed and charming illustrations by Randolph Caldecott (for whom the Caldecott award was named) add a great deal to the text. You could not have one without the other.
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