For children the day begins with a weight on the toes, long, angular, and many-faceted as a leg by Picasso. The stocking should be opened by candlelight: no other light is resonant at that high frequency of excitement.
Christmas is one of the oldest of our traditions, more ancient than any present-day beliefs, and strong enough to have survived even the attacks of Puritans in the seventeenth century.
Shortly after the end of World War II, Laurence Whistler set out to write “a guide to the festivals of England as they are and as they might be”: Christmas and its associated holidays formed one of the principal parts of his captivating narrative.
Here, for example, is the radiant Kissing Bough, whose candles we lit before we had ever heard of a Christmas Tree. Here is the history of carols, Christmas Cards, and the tradition of ‘first footing’ on New Year’s Day. The chapters, written with the imaginative delight of a poet, explore the traditions of Christmas in England since its earliest times, ranging from Christmas Eve to Twelfth Night.
This short work, which also contains beautiful illustrations by Robin Jaques and Joan Hassall, is a charming companion to anyone interested in the magic and tradition inherent in the Christmas Season.
“A lovely benevolence; the author’s knowledge, his sense of values, his breadth of outlook are in evidence on every page.”
John O’London’s Weekly
“Possessing enchantment of matter, it has also enchantment of manner.”
Time and Tide