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Old Christmas from The Sketch Book of Washington Irving (Illustrated Version)

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Old Christmas from the Sketch Book of Washington Irving (Illustrated Version) by Washington Irving and Illustrated by R. Caldecott ********************************************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Vent Old Christmas from the Sketch Book of Washington Irving (Illustrated Version) by Washington Irving and Illustrated by R. Caldecott ********************************************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. **********************************************************


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Old Christmas from the Sketch Book of Washington Irving (Illustrated Version) by Washington Irving and Illustrated by R. Caldecott ********************************************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Vent Old Christmas from the Sketch Book of Washington Irving (Illustrated Version) by Washington Irving and Illustrated by R. Caldecott ********************************************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. **********************************************************

30 review for Old Christmas from The Sketch Book of Washington Irving (Illustrated Version)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    7/10 I needed a pre-Christmas injection of Hallmark Sentimentality, without having to suffer through a Hallmark movie, and this fit the bill nicely, she said, only half in jest. Nicely done, Mr. Irving.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Christmas in England! The stuff of my dreams. This collection of five Christmas essays, both entertaining and informative, paints a lovely picture of the festive season in the early 1800s. The stories left me wondering, however, how an American author had acquired such an intimate knowledge of the seasonal traditions of 19th-century England. As usual, Wikipedia yielded some details. Washington Irving had moved from New York City to England in 1815 to try to salvage his family's tradin Christmas in England! The stuff of my dreams. This collection of five Christmas essays, both entertaining and informative, paints a lovely picture of the festive season in the early 1800s. The stories left me wondering, however, how an American author had acquired such an intimate knowledge of the seasonal traditions of 19th-century England. As usual, Wikipedia yielded some details. Washington Irving had moved from New York City to England in 1815 to try to salvage his family's trading business following the War of 1812. When the business slipped into bankruptcy in 1817, Irving was left without employment and subsequently chose, rather than returning to the USA "to the pity of my friends", to remain in England to try to make a name as a writer. Irving spent the next 15 years travelling in Europe and publishing an interesting variety of works. This particular group of essays first appeared in the USA on January 1, 1820 as the fifth instalment of a seven-volume serialized edition of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (published under the pseudonym of Geoffrey Crayon, one of many pen-names used by Washington Irving). The seven paperback volumes containing 34 essays and stories were published in the USA between June 1819 and July 1820. Thirty-two of the pieces were published in England in 1820 in two hardback volumes. Further details about the British edition, as well as some lovely images, can be found on this blog. These essays provide a brief and lighthearted introduction to the work of Washington Irving, as well as a charming picture of Christmas celebrations in an English country house of the early 19th century. The collection has inspired me to seek out additional stories from The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon as well as other works by this important American author.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This is a delightful quick read. I was able to finish it in little over an hour,and while eating breakfast. I love the language Irving uses....this basically talks about early Christmas celebrating in America,and some English traditions brought here. Did you know they ate Peacock? It's interesting how it was prepared. I would recommend you read this with a piping hot drink to warm the cockles,and enjoy this short but fun little read. Definitely worth the time to read on Christmas Eve or Day....t This is a delightful quick read. I was able to finish it in little over an hour,and while eating breakfast. I love the language Irving uses....this basically talks about early Christmas celebrating in America,and some English traditions brought here. Did you know they ate Peacock? It's interesting how it was prepared. I would recommend you read this with a piping hot drink to warm the cockles,and enjoy this short but fun little read. Definitely worth the time to read on Christmas Eve or Day....to escape from those annoying little relatives....I also recommend Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales...also short...also delightful. Now I am on to A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which I try to read every year.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    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 t 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 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 tradition hymns and get the locals to perform them. Here's one of my favorite passages from the book. It describes a thrown together church choir and orchestra: "The orchestra was in a small gallery, and presented a most whimsical grouping of heads,[98:] piled one above the other, among which I particularly noticed that of the village tailor, a pale fellow with a retreating forehead and chin, who played on the clarionet, and seemed to have blown his face to a point; and there was another, a short pursy man, stooping and labouring at a bass viol, so as to show nothing but the top of a round bald head, like the egg of an ostrich. There were two or three pretty faces among the female[99:] singers, to which the keen air of a frosty morning had given a bright rosy tint; but the gentlemen choristers had evidently been chosen, like old Cremona fiddles, more for tone than looks; and as several had to sing from the same book, there were clusterings of odd physiognomies, not unlike those groups of cherubs we sometimes see on country tombstones. The usual services of the choir were managed tolerably well, the vocal parts generally lagging a little behind the instrumental, and some loitering fiddler now and then making up for lost time by travelling over a passage with prodigious celerity, and clearing more bars than the keenest fox-hunter, to be in at the death. But the great trial was an anthem that had been prepared and arranged by Master Simon, and on which he had founded great expectation. Unluckily there was a blunder at the very outset; the musicians became flurried; Master Simon was in a fever, everything went on lamely and irregularly until[100:] they came to a chorus beginning "Now let us sing with one accord," which seemed to be a signal for parting company: all became discord and confusion; each shifted for himself, and got to the end as well, or rather as soon, as he could, excepting one old chorister in a pair of horn spectacles bestriding and pinching a long sonorous nose; who, happening to stand a little apart, and being wrapped up in his own melody, kept on a[101:] quavering course, wriggling his head, ogling his book, and winding all up by a nasal solo of at least three bars' duration." This description made me laugh out loud! Irving also describes the Squire's many relatives, both young, middle and older aged as almost having stepped down from the manor house portraits since they all resemble one another so much. There's also a village myth that a crusading knight Bridgebirch, who's buried in his armor, legs crossed to symbolize his having taken part in the Middle Eastern wars, as being restless and walking the church late at night or the church grounds trying to redress an old wrong or let people know where he's buried the family's treasure. One of the very best parts of this book is the lovely contemporary illustrations. Irving's "Old Christmas is a delicious seasonal treat.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Old Christmas by Washington Irving conveys a simple message of the joy of the Christmas season and its traditions. This is a nice and uplifting story and I’m glad I stumbled across this audiobook on LibriVox.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Miles Smith

    A charming memoir on Irving's time in Britain. The chapter that includes his reflections on the Christmas prayer service is especially good.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    A charming little book filled with ancient Christmas traditions. Irving's power of description does a great job of taking you back to older times.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sylvester

    Very short. By a man who loves Christmas and is full of positive feeling about it, except of course that the young people are ruining it, and no, it should be done the old way, and look! isn't the old way lovely? And it is lovely. There are all kinds of Christmases, all kinds of ways to celebrate it - this book only proves that.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Old Christmas is rather a charming essay, made up of Washington Irving's reflections on Christmas traditions. I found some sections far more interesting than others, but very much admired his writing style throughout, and loved learning about forgotten festive customs. A must-read for Christmas.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    A delightful, nostalgic reminiscence about old English Christmas celebrations and customs. Perfect for getting in the holiday spirit.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christine Norvell

    Touted as the author who singlehandedly revived American Christmas traditions, Irving depicts light narrations of rural British celebration. Bountiful adjectives, food, music, more adjectives, and blazing firesides. I read it as a comparison to Dickens' Christmas celebration in his Pickwick Papers.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)

    If you're going to read this one, definitely use the Gutenberg version with images. There are a lot of images and many are interesting and detailed. On the whole this is interesting for an American's view of old English Christmas customs in a particularly unusual British house. But it's a bit dull in spots, which is all the more reason to have those illustrations. First, look out for which version you have. I read the Kindle version which had taken out all the quoted poetry and songs. So there would b If you're going to read this one, definitely use the Gutenberg version with images. There are a lot of images and many are interesting and detailed. On the whole this is interesting for an American's view of old English Christmas customs in a particularly unusual British house. But it's a bit dull in spots, which is all the more reason to have those illustrations. First, look out for which version you have. I read the Kindle version which had taken out all the quoted poetry and songs. So there would be a "soandso launched into song:" and then nothing after the:. Note this first if that will bother you (it did me) and look ahead in your ebook to see that there are poems/songs quoted. Also there are endnotes, so check whether you'll have them linked in the text or you'll be having to page back - or if you ignore that sort of thing entirely while reading it's not a problem. These endnotes are actually interesting, so I'd advise reading them. The first chapter is undoubtedly dry, summing up Christmas in England and customs of the holiday without a great deal of detail. Once you're into the chapter The Stage Coach you are in much better company, with the journey on the coach which then leads to the country home where our narrator (Irving I assume) spends Christmas. From the chapter Christmas Eve: "...As we approached the house, we heard the sound of music, and now and then a burst of laughter from one end of the building. This, Bracebridge said, must proceed from the servants' hall, where a great deal of revelry was permitted, and even encouraged, by the Squire throughout the twelve days of Christmas, provided everything was done conformably to ancient usage. Here were kept up the old games of hoodman blind, shoe the wild mare, hot cockles, steal the white loaf, bob apple, and snapdragon: the Yule log and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe, with its white berries, hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids." The Squire is devoted (or obsessed with) keeping all the old fashioned customs of the seasons, but our narrator notes that this isn't always practical (from the chapter Christmas Day):"...Such was the good Squire's project for mitigating public discontent; and, indeed, he had once attempted to put his doctrine in practice, and a few years before had kept open house during the holidays in the old style. The country people, however, did not understand how to play their parts in the scene of hospitality; many uncouth circumstances occurred; the manor was overrun by all the vagrants of the country, and more beggars drawn into the neighbourhood in one week than the parish officers could get rid of in a year. Since then he had contented himself with inviting the decent part of the neighbouring peasantry to call at the hall on Christmas day, and distributing beef, and bread, and ale, among the poor, that they might make merry in their own dwellings.There's a lot of this kind of fodder for anyone pondering the class system in this chapter, and in the rest of the text. Note also that the chapter Christmas Day has a sort of ghost story about the statue on a tomb of a crusader in the local church. Or at least various short tellings of sightings of that crusader or statue (moving about) or perhaps both.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Full of charm - and wonderful sketches - this little book is a collection of observances about Christmas in England many years ago. It begins with the authour rambling a bit about Christmas and how it has changed, then he meets up with a friend, and having no other plans, agrees to join him and his family for Christmas. The family live in a large manor house where the Christmas gathering includes people of all ages. The Christmas Eve celebrations are described - from the children's ga Full of charm - and wonderful sketches - this little book is a collection of observances about Christmas in England many years ago. It begins with the authour rambling a bit about Christmas and how it has changed, then he meets up with a friend, and having no other plans, agrees to join him and his family for Christmas. The family live in a large manor house where the Christmas gathering includes people of all ages. The Christmas Eve celebrations are described - from the children's games to the grown-ups toasting each other over the wassail bowl - then the next chapter talks about Christmas morning and another details the Christmas feast. I tend to leave books I like quite marked up and I found lots to underline in Old Christmas: On society... "The World has become more worldly. There is more of dissipation and less of enjoyment. Pleasure has expanded into a broader but a shallower stream, and has forsaken many of those deep and quiet channels where it flowed sweetly through the calm bosom of domestic life." On Christmas..."It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling - the season for rekindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart." On family..."It was the policy of the good old gentleman to make his children feel that home was the happiest place in the world; and I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow." As good as those are, my favourite quote comes from the last ten lines of the book...but I'll leave you to discover that for yourself. This is a treasure of a book. I never get tired of reading it, it's such a pleasure. I class it with "A Child's Christmas In Wales" and "A Christmas Carol" and I think that's probably the best recommendation I can give it!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pedro F. Rocha

    E assim se completa o meu ano de leituras. Com um fantástico livro sobre as tradições do Natal inglês. Um livro que comprei por 1 singelo euro numa loja de antiguidades em Coimbra. O seu anterior dono tinha-o, pelo menos, em 1981, e pelo meio do livro deixou-me dois trevos de 4 folhas. Que tenha mais sorte que ele e que o agora meu livro não vá parar às mãos de outro. Não podia ter terminado de forma melhor: "But enough of Christmas and its gambols ; it is time for me to pause in E assim se completa o meu ano de leituras. Com um fantástico livro sobre as tradições do Natal inglês. Um livro que comprei por 1 singelo euro numa loja de antiguidades em Coimbra. O seu anterior dono tinha-o, pelo menos, em 1981, e pelo meio do livro deixou-me dois trevos de 4 folhas. Que tenha mais sorte que ele e que o agora meu livro não vá parar às mãos de outro. Não podia ter terminado de forma melhor: "But enough of Christmas and its gambols ; it is time for me to pause in this garrulity. Methinks I hear the questions asked by my graver readers, " To what purpose is all this ? how is the world to be made wiser by this talk ?" Alas ! is there not wisdom enough extant for the in- struction of the world ? And if not, are there not thousands of abler pens labouring for its improvement ? It is so much pleasanter to please than to instruct to play the companion rather than the preceptor. What, after all, is the mite of wisdom that I could throw into the mass of knowledge ? or how am I sure that my sagest deductions may be safe guides for the opinions of others ? But in writing to amuse, if I fail, the only evil is my own dis- appointment. If, however, I can by any lucky chance, in these days of evil, rub out one wrinkle from the brow of care, or beguile the heavy heart of one moment of sorrow ; if I can now and then penetrate through the gathering film of misanthropy, prompt a benevolent view of human nature, and make my reader more in good humour with his fellow-beings and himself, surely, surely, I shall not then have written entirely in vain."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Thrasher

    I picked this up for several reasons. I read an article here -- http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/d... that detailed how Old Christmas was the father of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. I read another essay that while Washington Irving didn't invent Christmas, he certainly "dressed it up." And finally, it was Christmas weekend and I wanted something new but delightfully old fashioned to read. This certainly fit the bill. If you read Dickens every holiday season, consider adding Washington Irving to that list. You won't be disappointed. The fir I picked this up for several reasons. I read an article here -- http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/d... that detailed how Old Christmas was the father of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. I read another essay that while Washington Irving didn't invent Christmas, he certainly "dressed it up." And finally, it was Christmas weekend and I wanted something new but delightfully old fashioned to read. This certainly fit the bill. If you read Dickens every holiday season, consider adding Washington Irving to that list. You won't be disappointed. The first few paragraphs of the first story are my favorite - poignant and moving. Even here in sunny summery southern California, Irving made me feel the chill bite of winter and longed for a hearth to huddle by. I loved the character of Master Simon, the bachelor reletive who sings, tells the best stories, and makes the young girls giggle at inappropriate times and gossips with the old widows. He's definitely an archetype. The Randolph Caldecott illustrations - he of the medal fame - are whimsically fantastic.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Not engaging but it is descriptive, painting a detailed picture of how Christmas was celebrated years ago (c1700s? 1800s? maybe some of both?). I can see how the preparations gave people something to anticipate in the days before electricity, faster transportation, and instant communication. Just think how long those dark nights must have felt, how seldom many country-dwellers would have talked with friends, and how much time they may have had on their hands without as much outdoor work to do. T Not engaging but it is descriptive, painting a detailed picture of how Christmas was celebrated years ago (c1700s? 1800s? maybe some of both?). I can see how the preparations gave people something to anticipate in the days before electricity, faster transportation, and instant communication. Just think how long those dark nights must have felt, how seldom many country-dwellers would have talked with friends, and how much time they may have had on their hands without as much outdoor work to do. The author was nostalgic for the "old Christmas" celebrations.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    One of Washinton Irving's most often read books. Set at Bracebridge Hall in the north of England in the early 1800s it describes his "experiences" during the families Yuletide celebrations, & is a delightful picture of an "Old Christmas" complete with Youle logs, holly wreaths & greens, holiday parlour games, music & merriment. My wife & I read this classic every year at Christmas as part of our Yuletide celebration & Christmas wouldn't seem complete without it. A perfect del One of Washinton Irving's most often read books. Set at Bracebridge Hall in the north of England in the early 1800s it describes his "experiences" during the families Yuletide celebrations, & is a delightful picture of an "Old Christmas" complete with Youle logs, holly wreaths & greens, holiday parlour games, music & merriment. My wife & I read this classic every year at Christmas as part of our Yuletide celebration & Christmas wouldn't seem complete without it. A perfect delight.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    It has become a Christmas tradition of mine to read Washington Irving's Old Christmas, an excerpt from his Sketchbook, with wonderful illustrations by Caldecott originally published in 1875. The caricatures and sketches of old English Christmas traditions always puts me in a festive and contemplative mood for the season and can be easily read over the course of an evening or so.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Han

    A fascinating, Dickensian depiction of Christmas traditions in the 19th-century English countryside. Made me nostalgic for a time when Instagramming gifts wasn't a prevalent part of Christmas. Be sure to read an edition containing Caldecott's wonderful illustrations (can be found here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20656/...).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I love the old language, beautiful descriptions, and the reasons why traditions are so important. Old Christmas is about the medieval and Renaissance traditions of old England, as upheld by an old country squire. Lovely and quaint!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bella Martinez

    Very quaint. The diction was a delight, as was Irving's poignant yearning for the Christmas celebrations of yesteryear.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu

    An interesting look at earlier Christmas celebrations written in Irving's notable descriptive writing style.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    The old Christmas traditions of merrie England clearly held a strong attraction for Washington Irving. In his Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-20), he included, along with much better-known works like “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” five sketches setting forth his favorable impressions of a traditional English Christmas celebration that he had the good fortune to witness while traveling in Yorkshire one December. The Sketch Book vaulted Irving to instant literary fame, and The old Christmas traditions of merrie England clearly held a strong attraction for Washington Irving. In his Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-20), he included, along with much better-known works like “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” five sketches setting forth his favorable impressions of a traditional English Christmas celebration that he had the good fortune to witness while traveling in Yorkshire one December. The Sketch Book vaulted Irving to instant literary fame, and helped make him the first American author able to support himself solely through the income from his writing. Yet it was not until 1875, sixteen years after Irving’s 1859 death, that those five Christmas sketches were published on their own as Old Christmas; and in that independent capacity, they provide a pleasant accompaniment to the holiday season. The edition that I would recommend is the one that I have before me, published (appropriately enough) by the Sleepy Hollow Press of Tarrytown, New York. A helpful foreword by Andrew B. Myers of Fordham University establishes the historical and social context within which the Macmillan publishing company of London published the five Christmas sketches as the book Old Christmas, with evocative illustrations by Randolph Caldecott. Myers’s foreword also helped me to reconsider Irving’s work in its entirety. Encountering Irving’s well-known conservatism on a first reading of The Sketch Book, I found that I often lost patience with Irving’s seeming eagerness to talk about how everything in England was wonderful simply because it was old. Myers argues persuasively, however, that Irving’s world-view is best regarded as a measured appreciation for all that has proven to be of lasting value: “Ubi sunt – where are? – the tested ways of old, is a theme in much of Irving’s canon” (e). As I see it, that means that Irving’s conservatism was not of the tea-party or red-state kind; were he alive today, he would not be flying down to West Palm Beach to appear on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program and offer maximum dittos. The American Irving’s reverence for England’s “tested ways of old” takes on particular significance when one considers that, just four years before the publication of The Sketch Book, America and England had been at war. The War of 1812 may seem like a “small” war by modern standards – my English father-in-law was not even taught anything about it when he was growing up in Essex – but, like all wars, it killed people (about 20,000 of them), and left much bitterness in its wake. In that context, as Myers puts it, “Irving’s festive message, in troubled transatlantic times, for these recent foes, was to all readers of good will” (d). These five Christmas sketches, in their quiet way, may have done much to encourage favorable feelings between Britons and Americans, and to promote peace on earth. The five sketches themselves, working as what Myers calls “a deliberate effort to praise anew ancient Noël folkways [Irving] felt in danger of disappearing” (e), work surprisingly well as an independent little book of their own. In a conventional publication, they would not take up much space at all; I own the Penguin Books edition of The Sketch Book (helpfully re-titled The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories), and in that book the five Christmas sketches take up only 44 pages, from pp. 147-91. In order for Old Christmas to fill out the 159 pages of the edition I hold before me, the publishers had to adopt a number of clever stratagems: the book is relatively small in size, the typeface is large, the line spacing is generous, and the illustrations are many. But it would be Grinchy or Scroogelike to dwell at too much length on such things; so let us be generous, and hurry on to the tales themselves. The first of the sketches, “Christmas,” frames Old Christmas well, with a claim that many readers, especially at this time of year, would no doubt agree with: “Of all the old festivals…that of Christmas awakens the strongest and most heartfelt associations” (3). In the second, “The Stage Coach,” Irving describes a Christmas Eve stagecoach journey through Yorkshire, praises English coachmen as a “very numerous and important class of functionaries, who have a dress, a manner, a language, an air, peculiar to themselves” (22), and tells of how a chance meeting with an English friend named Frank Bracebridge resulted in an invitation to the Bracebridges’ Yorkshire estate for an old-fashioned English Christmas. The third, “Christmas Eve,” enables us to spend December 24th in the company of Frank Bracebridge’s father, “The Squire,” a decidedly old-school country gentleman who “prides himself upon keeping up something of old English hospitality” (pp. 43-44), and “even regrets sometimes that he had not been born a few centuries earlier, when England was itself, and had its peculiar manners and customs” (p. 45). The fourth, “Christmas Day,” takes us through the elaborate rituals, both religious and secular, of December 25th at the Bracebridge estate, a time when “Everything conspired to produce kind and happy feelings in this stronghold of old-fashioned hospitality” (p. 79). And the fifth and last of the sketches, “The Christmas Dinner,” may well whet the reader’s appetite for some gustatory Christmas cheer of his or her own, given the loving detail with which Irving sets forth the holiday foods and drinks enjoyed by Squire Bracebridge and his guests. The text and illustrations of Old Christmas complement one another well. Illustrator Caldecott does fine when interpreting the broad, caricature-like strokes with which Irving delineates minor characters, but his work shines when he depicts people who are young and in love. Caldecott’s health was always poor, and he was only 40 years old when he died; and when I look at the beautiful young women of his illustrations, I can’t help but think that Caldecott was feeling intimations of mortality, expressing his own sense that he would never get the chance to grow old with the woman he loved. As for Irving’s text, the great son of New York’s Hudson River Valley excels at description, and conveys energetically the Yuletide interactions among the residents of, and visitors to, Bracebridge Hall. At the same time, I can’t help fearing that Irving’s disposition to revere the ways of old, and the upper-class people who are in charge of preserving said ways, may sometimes blind him to other points of view. Case in point: I hope that Irving does not approve when he quotes Squire Bracebridge talking of how “The nation…is altered; we have almost lost our simple true-hearted peasantry. They have broken asunder from the higher classes, and seem to think their interests are separate. They have become too knowing, and begin to read newspapers, listen to alehouse politicians, and talk of reform” (p. 109). One does not have to be a card-carrying member of the I.W.W. to ask: Is there anything wrong with a “simple, true-hearted peasant” wanting to improve his or her lot in life? Or to read newspapers? Or to take an interest in politics? Or – saints preserve us! – to believe that some elements of society may be in need of reform? Yet I do not want to overemphasize politics at the expense of good cheer. Old Christmas is a fun holiday read; and as Myers points out in his foreword, it can be linked with other Christmas classics like Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” (1823) and Charles Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol (1843). If you are disposed to make merry during the holiday season, Irving’s little book certainly deserves a place in your stocking.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I listened to Old Christmas on audiobook, and I confess it couldn't hold my attention for more than ten seconds at a time. There's little to no plot. Instead, it's more a reminiscence of Christmas including a series of charming vignettes. Maybe I would've had better luck had I read a print copy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Meh, easy to forget.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    It’s September, Nicole.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rugg Ruggedo

    Washington Irving wrote Sketch Book from 1819-1820. Originally appearing as a series of seven paperbacks (large pamphlets). In number 5 there were five stories that centered on The Feast of the Nativity. Irving's fascination with old English customs and and tales drew him to the fun side of Christmas that England and the world was getting away from. Drawing on his knowledge of the poetry and fantasy, as well as the history and traditions, he had read about and become infatuated with, he created Washington Irving wrote Sketch Book from 1819-1820. Originally appearing as a series of seven paperbacks (large pamphlets). In number 5 there were five stories that centered on The Feast of the Nativity. Irving's fascination with old English customs and and tales drew him to the fun side of Christmas that England and the world was getting away from. Drawing on his knowledge of the poetry and fantasy, as well as the history and traditions, he had read about and become infatuated with, he created a tale of a visit to a manor house and the squire within who held very closely to the "old ways". These stories from Sketch Book are widely believed to be the beginnings of how we celebrate Christmas today. The stories of Old Christmas appeared in 1820, A Visit From St.Nicholas was published in 1823, and Charles Dickens gave us A Christmas Carol in 1843. Between these three pieces of fiction, much of how we feel about and celebrate Christmas are defined. In 1848 with some small changes Irving put out his five tales of an English Christmas into one book Old Christmas, enabling more people to enjoy those old traditions,bringing them to a larger portion of the public. The version that was published in 1886 had amazing illustrations by Randolf Caldecott, a famous English illustrator. Caldecott was meant to illustrate Irving's prose. The combination was a huge success. In the 1970's Sleepy Hollow Restorations reproduced the 1886 version exactly. This version was sold at Irving's estate Sunnyside and might be there still? Iriving's Sketch Book is a combination of short stories,essays, and descriptive sketches. The most famous of which are The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,and Rip Van Winkle. I first read these five tales when I first picked up a copy of Sketch Book to read the two previous mentioned stories. I loved the way Irving told his tales and just kept reading until I had finished the whole book. I remember thinking about going back and reading them each new holiday season,but thinking about finding them in all that text often kept me from it. Later while doing some research on Dickens and his interest in Christmas. Why he wrote his five Christmas Tales and why he included the holiday in so many of his books even before A Christmas Carol, I came up with a connection with Irving and his stories. It seems that Dickens had discussed the holiday and the way it was celebrated with Irving. Talking about the way that society, at that time, was beginning to see huge gaps in class and prosperity, and the bridge of those gaps that the brotherhood and common ritual could bring. I also found out that there was a separate book that held all of Irvings tales that I could take out each Christmas and enjoy on its own. The version I read every year is the facsimile that I mentioned before with the Caldecott illustrations. It's both familiar and inventively new at the same time. I always think I am discovering Christmas with all the original readers at the time it was written. Enjoying the company of The Squire and his family. Reliving the old traditions, trying to figure out how the morphed into what we celebrate now. Irving's folksy style just carries you from one event to another, wishing you might be part of Master Simon's next piece of mischief, or sit by while The Squire tells you tales of how things used to be. This if a really fun holiday read, and the history of it,makes it that much more interesting. Well worth finding and adding to any cold day in December.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Peter

    I picked this up in an antiques shop for a fiver - it's a lovely 1876 edition, not in very good nick and missing pages 47 and 48, but retaining all its Caldecott/Cooper pictures which for the most part depict a snowy landscape though Irving only ever, I think, describes a frosty one. So, Dickens invented Christmas, eh? Well, Irving got there first though in a journalistic format rather than a fictional one - at least, so I am assuming. Perhaps to the 21st century reader, the realism o I picked this up in an antiques shop for a fiver - it's a lovely 1876 edition, not in very good nick and missing pages 47 and 48, but retaining all its Caldecott/Cooper pictures which for the most part depict a snowy landscape though Irving only ever, I think, describes a frosty one. So, Dickens invented Christmas, eh? Well, Irving got there first though in a journalistic format rather than a fictional one - at least, so I am assuming. Perhaps to the 21st century reader, the realism of what is recorded has passed into the realms of phantasy and a yearning for a less muddling world, and Christmas never really happened as Irving presents it. Or maybe his own memory is tinged with the romanticising characteristic of a pleasurable experience? Be that as it may, the small community over which Squire Bracebridge holds sway certainly know how to keep Christmas merrily, and even the rather tiresome foibles of Master Simon, the elderly bachelor relative, are generously and tolerantly accepted. The account covers a disquisition on Christmas, a stagecoach journey, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day Morning, and Christmas Dinner, and includes explanatory notes. I particularly liked the description of family prayers which happen before breakfast and before church. The parson refuses to start his service until the sexton has removed all druidical mistletoe from the church. Two of the Squire's sons provide a nice variety of behaviour: the Oxonian who teases his aunts and the officer who is lovesick (or affects to be so). Christmas Day includes morris dancing, unkind remarks about the Squire by the hoi-polloi who are enjoying their master's drink, the hint of a village romance, the ceremonial entry of the boar's head, a peacock pie and a wassail bowl, a fat-headed gentleman who takes the rip out of Master Simon, and, as the evening draws to a boozy conclusion, 'a burlesque imitation of an ancient masque' in which a very superior dressing up box is raided by Master Simon and friends to present a historical parade of past fashions. It's a lovely book. I'm on the lookout for a better edition: I don't think I'll ever find pages 47 and 48....

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hal Brodsky

    21 years before Charles Dickens published "A Christmas Carol", America's Washington Irving wrote this short collection of sketches describing his travels to England and some of the vanishing Christmas customs he witnessed there firsthand. Dickens, a fan of Irving, later borrowed those customs, first in the wonderful Christmas scenes in "The Pickwick Papers" and later transplanted them from the countryside to Scrooge and Cratchitt's urban London. Ironically, this re-popularized some of these 21 years before Charles Dickens published "A Christmas Carol", America's Washington Irving wrote this short collection of sketches describing his travels to England and some of the vanishing Christmas customs he witnessed there firsthand. Dickens, a fan of Irving, later borrowed those customs, first in the wonderful Christmas scenes in "The Pickwick Papers" and later transplanted them from the countryside to Scrooge and Cratchitt's urban London. Ironically, this re-popularized some of these customs, including kissing under the mistletoe, burning the Yule Log, Caroling, and even the heavy drinking associated with Christmas Eve (Wasseling). In praising the Country Squire who invited his peasants in for a Christmas party and feast, Irving writes: "The dinner-time passed away in this flow of innocent hilarity; and though the old hall may have resounded in its time with many a scene of broader rout and revel, yet I doubt whether it ever witnessed more honest and genuine enjoyment. HOW EASY IT IS FOR ONE BENEVOLENT BEING TO DIFFUSE PLEASURE AROUND HIM; and how truly is a kind heart a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity to freshen into smiles!" Is there any doubt that this squire is reborn as Mr. Fizziwig in "A Christmas Carol" and that Dickens reworks the same paragraph? Elsewhere credited with giving Santa Clause a sleigh and making him fly, Irving's influence on modern American celebration makes this an interesting read this time of year.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth

    This book consists of stories apparently drawn from Irving's "The Sketch Book" which have him spending the Christmas holiday with a gentry family in Yorkshire sometime around 1820. After an opening chapter, the next chapter tells about the narrator travelling on a crowded stage coach and running into a former traveling companion, the son of a squire who lives on an estate near a small village, who invites him to accompany him home. The next chapter is about their arrival on Christmas Eve and the This book consists of stories apparently drawn from Irving's "The Sketch Book" which have him spending the Christmas holiday with a gentry family in Yorkshire sometime around 1820. After an opening chapter, the next chapter tells about the narrator travelling on a crowded stage coach and running into a former traveling companion, the son of a squire who lives on an estate near a small village, who invites him to accompany him home. The next chapter is about their arrival on Christmas Eve and their reception. The 4th chapter relates the events of Christmas Day prior to the Christmas Dinner. The final chapter is the story of the Christmas Dinner and the traditional revelries following it. Because of the location in the north of England, the area preserves old traditional forms of celebration that by the 1820's were dying out elsewhere in England, so there is a feeling of nostalgia to the book. Dover has reprinted this edition from the 4th edition published by Macmillan & Co., London, in 1892, which was illustrated by Randolph Caldecott. Recommended for anyone with an interest in the social life and folklore of early 19th century England.

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