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Old Christmas

Washington Irving

Book Overview: 

A tale of the quaint and old English traditions of celebrating Christmas. Irving travels to the English countryside and meets an old schoolmate, who invites him home to spend Christmas at the family estate.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . this sacred festival:[15]—

"Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated, This bird of dawning singeth all night long: And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad; The nights are wholesome—then no planets strike, No fairy takes, no witch hath power to charm, So hallow'd and so gracious is the time."

Amidst the general call to happiness, the bustle of the spirits, and stir of the affections, which prevail at this period, what bosom can remain insensible? It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling—the season for kindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart.

The scene of early love again rises green to memory beyond the sterile waste of years; and the idea of home, fraught with the fragrance of home-dwelling joys, re-animates the drooping spirit,—as the Arabian breeze will sometimes waft the freshness of th. . . Read More

Community Reviews

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...more

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 interestin...more

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 Paper...more

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

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.

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.

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 th...more

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 kind...more

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

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