27 December 2008


by William Sansom

What can I say about a book I found totally by accident after seeing it mentioned in another book I bought on a total whim? Talk about serendipity!

Written in 1968, this oversized (but not coffee table size) hardcover book is crammed as full as a Christmas turkey with old engravings, woodcuts, and paintings. Sansom's text, covers in twelve chapers, like the twelve days of Christmas, all aspects of the holiday, from origins to modern celebrations, from the happy delights of the season to its sad portion, from country to city, from prose to poetry to song. The English celebration is chiefly focussed upon, but there are also glimpses of American, European, and even Asian customs, and Dickens, food traditions, decorating novelties, Victorian delights, gift givers, the pantomime, and more abound.

In addition, the text is written in an erudite, yet delicious fashion, as quoted in a previous entry, sometimes wry, occasionally frivolous, but altogether a veritable feast of words that even the grandiloquent John Charles Daly (or even Victor Comstock) would love.

Definitely worth finding if you are a Christmas book fan!

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