25 August 2016

Rudolph Day, August 2016

"Rudolph Day" is a way of keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year long. You can read a Christmas book, work on a Christmas craft project, listen to Christmas music or watch a Christmas movie.

A Yorkshire Christmas, George Collard
This is another in Sutton's line of Christmas books, either from English shires (their equivalent of a county) or during a certain time or literary period. Having picked up one (Worcestershire Christmas) at a book sale, I've collected one or two at the time when I can find them inexpensively (not to mention Surrey Christmas turned up a year later at the same book sale).

This one is a particularly happy find because so many familiar writers are contained within. The Brontes were from Yorkshire, so both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre supply Yuletide passages and the family is heavily represented. Charles Dickens apparently wrote most of A Christmas Carol in Malton, and Scrooge's office was based on the office of Dickens' friend. Lewis Carroll, Winifred Holtby (from her famous book South Riding), and James Herriott also supply seasonal literary passages. Historical events taking place at Christmas, such as King Arthur's Christmas in York, the defeat of the Duke of York by armies commanded by Margaret of Anjou (the wife of kidnapped King Henry), William the Conqueror's victory over King Harold on Christmas Day, and others are also included. The best readings are nostalgic memories of old Yorkshire customs like the Waits, Lucky Birds, frumenty and fluffin, the amazing Yorkshire Christmas pie, charity by the rich to the poor, simple gift exchanges (oranges or figs, small toys, the custom of families knitting, travel by stagecoach, and instances of deep snow.

The volume is liberally illustrated with vintage illustrations and photographs from 1900 through the 1940s. The passages are all short and can be read one or two a night before the holidays.

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For a classic story, but on the American side of the Atlantic, none is more heartwarming than Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," here read on stage: