Old Christmas: From the Sketch Book of Washington Irving - Washington Irving 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.