Even though I have read a lot of wintry and then Christmassy books this month, cutting a swathe through the TBR and its associated challenge, I had yet MORE Christmassyness arrive just before Christmas, opening “Christmas: A Very Peculiar History” in my BookCrossing Not So Secret Santa parcel and receiving the lovely short story / Christmas card “The Christmas Dinner” by Washington Irving from (I will admit as they’ll both read this) two lovely booky friends. What better reads to save for Christmas Day? (Actually, we were quite busy on Christmas Day, what with me going to parkrun in the morning, cooking a lovely lunch, going for a walk and doing a Zoom call with a dear friend, so not THAT much time for reading!). Only one will count towards actual books read, but both deserve a review.

Fiona MacDonald – “Christmas: A Very Peculiar History, With Lashings of Second Helpings

(16 December 2021 – from Sam via BookCrossing)

A little gifty book that packs a lot of information into its 191 pages of vintage-illustrated text (including a glossary and index). It has details on the history of all the things to do with Christmas, from its timing to the tree and Father Christmas himself, info on practices around the world, and fun facts galore. It’s a pretty little book but certainly has enough content to keep you reading for a good few hours. One tiny mention that all the scholars mentioned are men and even when there’s an illustration of a random scholar, it’s a man, with women and girls relegated to general illustrations, but I’m probably being extra picky there. A good gift and one to consider when putting together parcels for friends or relatives.

Washington Irving – “The Christmas Dinner”

This is one of the lovely Christmas card / pamphlets that Renard Press do in aid of “Three Peas“, a charity that supports people who have had to flee war and/or persecution in Europe. It’s such a lovely idea and I was very pleased to receive them this year again. This is a great story of a typical British Christmas dinner reported by an American writer in 1820 – so you get his footnotes explaining lots of traditions, as well as extra ones from the modern editors to explain things that might have got lost in the mists of history. Everything’s there from feasting to dressing up in costumes in this charming little read that gets you into the spirit of Christmas or keeps you there on a sleepy afternoon.

Two lovely gifts! Did you do a Christmassy read on Christmas afternoon?