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masse eve." The following is from "Christmas," a poem, by Romaine Joseph Thorn, 1795:

Thy welcome eve, lov'd Christmas, now arrived, The parish bells their tuneful peals resound, And mirth and gladness every breast pervade. The ponderous ashen faggot from the yard, The jolly farmer to his crowded hall, Conveys with speed, where on the rising flames (Already fed with stores of massy brands), It blazes soon; nine bandages it bears, And as they each disjoin (so custom wills), A mighty jug of sparkling cyder's brought, With brandy mixt, to elevate the guests. Again

High on the cheerful fire

Is blazing seen the enormous Christmas brand.

The following occurs in Herrick's Hesperides :


Come, bring with a noise,
My merrie, merrie boys,

The Christmasse log to the firing
While my good dame she
Bids ye all be free,

And drink to your hearts' desiring.
With the last year's brand
Light the new block, and

For good success in his spending,
On your psaltries play,
That sweet luck may

Come while the log is a-teending.
Drink now the strong beere,
Cut the white loaf here,

The while the meat is a shredding,
For the rare mince-pies
And the plums stand by

To fill the paste that's a-kneading.


At Ramsgate they commenced the festivities of Christmas by a curious procession. A party of young people having procured the head of a dead horse, affixed it to a pole about four feet in length. A string was tied to the lower jaw, a horse-cloth, was also attached to the whole, under which one of the party got, and by frequently pulling the string, kept up a loud snapping noise, which was accompanied by the rest of the party, grotesquely habited, with hand-bells. They thus proceeded from house to house ringing their bells, and singing carols and songs. They were commonly offered refreshments or money. This custom was called going a-hodening, and the figure a hodenar, wooden horse. It is now discontinued; but the singing of carols at Christmas is still called going a-hodening.


Aubanus tells us that in Franconia, on the three Thursday nights preceding the nativity of our Lord, it is the custom of the youth of both sexes to go from house to house knocking at the doors, singing their Christmas carols, and wishing a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. They get in return at the houses they stop at, pears, apples, nuts, and even

money. Little troops of boys and girls stil go about in this very manner in Yorkshire and other places in the north of England, on Christmas-Eve, and on that day itself. They always conclude their song with wishing a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.


To-night it is the New-Year's night, to-morrow is the day,

And we are come for our right and for our ray,
As we used to do in old King Henry's day.
Sing, fellows, sing, hag-man ha!

If you go to the bacon-flick, cut me a good bit;
Cut, cut, and low, beware of your maw;
Cut, cut, and round, beware of your thumb,
That me and my merry men may have some.
Sing, fellows, sing, hag-man ha!

If you go to the black ark, bring me ten marks,
Ten marks, ten pound, throw it down upon the

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The Christmas Carol (derived from cantare, "to sing," and rola, an interjection of joy) is of very ancient date. Bishop Taylor observes, that the Gloria in Excelsis, the well-known hymn, sung by the angels to the shepherds at our Lord's nativity, was the earliest Christmas carol. In the earlier ages of the Church, bishops were accustomed to sing carols among their clergy on Christmas-Day. This species of pious song is undoubtedly of most ancient date.

In the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the city of London, 1537, is the following entry:"To S. Mark for carolls for Christmas, and for 5 square books, iijs. iiijd.

The following carol is preserved in a MS. of the time of Henry VI., in the public library, at Cambridge.

Puer nobis natus est de Virgine Maria.
Lystenyt, lordyngs, more and lees,
I brying yow tydyns of gladnes,
As Gabriel beryt wytres.

Dicam vobis quia.

I bryng yow tydyneges that (arn) fwul gowde;
Now es borne a blyesful fowde,
That bowt us alle upon the rode.
Sua morte pia

For the trespas of Adam,
Fro ys fader Jhesu ho cam,
Here in herthe houre Rende he man,
Sua mente pia.

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"This carol," Warton adds, "yet with many innovations, is retained at Queen's College, in Oxford."

The following is a copy of a very curious carol in the Scotch language, preserved in "Ane compendious Booke of Godly and Spirituall Songs," Edinburgh, 1621.

Ane sang of the Birth of Christ,
With tune of Baw lula law,
(Angelus, ut opinor, loquitor).

I come from him to tell
The best nowelles that ever befell;
To you this tythinges trew I bring,
And I will of them say and sing.

This day to yow is borne ane childe
Of Marie meike and Virgine mylde,
That blessit barne bining and kynde,
Sall yow rejoyce baith heart and mynde.
My saull and lyfe, stand up and see
Quha lyes in ane cribe of tree,
Quhat babe is that, so gude and faire ?
It is Christ, Gods scnne and aire.

O God! that made all creature,
How art thow becum so pure,
That in the hay and stray will lye,
Amang the asses, oxin, and kye?

The following good old English Christmas carol is preserved in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1695:

Now thrice welcome, Christmas, which brings us good cheer,

Minced pies and plum-porridge, good ale, and strong beer;

With pig, goose, and capon, the best that may be, So well doth the weather and our stomachs agree Observe how the chimneys do smoak all about, The cooks are providing for dinner, no doubt. But those on whose tables no victual appear, Oh may they keep Lent all the rest of the year! With holly and ivy so green and so gay, We deck up our houses as fresh as the day, With bays and rosemary, and lawrel compleat, And every one now is a king in conceit. But as for curmudgeons who will not be free, I wish they may die on the three-legged tree. In the Scilly Isles they have a custom of singing carols on Christmas-Day at church, to which the congregation make contributions by dropping money into a hat carried about the church when the performance is

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The Christmas box was formerly the bounty of good-natured people, who were willing to contribute something towards rewarding the industrious and supplying them with necessaries. The butcher and the baker sent their journeymen and apprentices to levy contributions on their customers who were paid back again in fees to the servants of the different families. Gay in his Triva mentions the Christmas box:-

Some boys are rich by birth beyond all wants,
Belov'd by uncles and kind good old aunts;
When time comes round, a Christmas box they

And one day makes them rich for all the year.

We are told in the Athenian Oracle that the Christmas box is derived hence:-The Romish priests had masses said for almost everything; if a ship went out to the Indies, the priest had a box in her, under the protection of some saint; the poor people must put something into the priest's box, which was not opened till the ship's return. The mass at that time was called Christmas - the box called Christmas box, or money gathered against that time that masses might be said by the priests to saints to forgive the people the debaucheries of that time, and from this servants had the liberty to collect box money, that they too might be able to pay the priest for his masses, knowing well the truth of the proverb, "No penny, no paternosters."


On Old Christmas-Day the village of Haxey in Lincolnshire is enlivened by the anniversary of what is called "Throwing the Hood," one of the most ancient customs in England. It is said to have originated by the hood of Madame de Mowbray being blown off while she was riding, a few years after the Conquest, near Braize Sound, a hamlet near Haxey. She is said to have been so amused by seeing the men running after her hood, that she gave twelve acres of land to twelve men to celebrate it annually. She gave them the curious name of Boggoners. Throwing the hood is now performed by the inhabitants of West Woodside and Haxey, trying who can get the hood to the nearest public-house in each place. is made of straw lined with leather, and is about two feet long by nine inches round. The twelve Boggoners are placed so as to catch the hood, which is thrown against the crowd; as soon as a Boggoner touches or catches the hood, the game ceases. One year there were, notwithstanding a fog and the intense cold, no fewer than one thousand present to witness the game.




In Devonshire it is customary for the farmer to leave his warm fireside, accompanied by a band of rustics armed with guns, blunder

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The cider jug is then passed round, and with hearty shouts the party fire off their guns, charged with powder only, amongst the branches of the trees. With confident hopes they return to the farmhouse and are refused admittance, till some lucky wight guesses aright the peculiar roast the maidens are preparing for their comfort. This done, all enter, that man who gained them admission receiving the honour of king for the evening, and till a late hour he reigns amidst laughter, fun, and jollity. The origin of this custom is not known, but it is supposed to be one of great antiquity.


Apropos to the season is a copy of a Benefaction Board in a Staffordshire church :"Richard Evans late of fren left

by will after his wife's dece's
2lbs. to be paid every year & give
ad out in bread 2d. loaves & give
en to poor househoulders of
this parish of pen as well as
them that have Constant pay
20s. on Chris-mas Day & 20s. on
New Years Day, if the same is
not truly paid, or is late dw
elling house, or any of the
bilding Sufford to go out in
repare the Church Warders
Are in full power to enter
on all for the use of the


Hunting the Wren, on Christmas-Day, has been a pastime in the Isle of Man from time immemorial. It is founded on a tradition that a fairy, once on a time, infatuated the warriors of Mona, and by her charms decoyed them into the sea, where they were drowned. She had thus well-nigh stripped the isle of its chivalry, when a knight sprang up so bold and artful that he had certainly compassed the death of the enchantress, but that she escaped by taking the form of a wren. The knight, however, cast a spell upon her, by which she was condemned on every Christmas-Day to appear in the same form, with the definite sentence that she should ultimately perish by

human hands. From that time to this, from dawn till night, men and boys, with bows and arrows, sticks and stones, pursue, shoot, and pelt the whole family of wrens, in the hope that the fairy may thus perish by their hands. The feathers of the slain are craved as charms, to preserve mariners from shipwreck, and many a rough tar conceals them in his bosom. The sport ended, the supposed witch-wren is on St. Stephen's-Day affixed to the top of a pole decked with evergreens and bows of ribbons, and as the sportsmen march in triumph through the town, amid the blowing of horns, they sing :

We'll away to the woods, says Robin the Bobbin,
We'll away to the woods, says Richard the Robin,
We'll away to the woods, says Jackey the Land,
We'll away to the woods, says every one.
What will we do there? says Robbin the Bobbin,
We'll hunt the wren, says Robbin the Bobbin;
Where is he, where is he? says Robbin the Bobbin,
In yonder green bush, says Robbin the Bobbin ;
How can we get him down? says Robbin the

With sticks and stones, says Robbin the Bobbin ;
He's down, he's down, says Robbin the Bobbin.


The Christmas festival is introduced by young persons perambulating the streets of the various towns in the evening, fantastically dressed and armed with wooden swords. As

they proceed they cry out, "Who wants to see the Whiteboys act?" When engaged, they essay a rude burlesque, in which St. George, Prince Valentine, a king of Egypt, Sambo, and a doctor are the dramatis persona. For several evenings just preceding the festival, the fiddlers go about the streets of the town for hours together, playing a tune called the andisop. On their way they stop before the principal houses, wish the inmates individually good morning, call the hour, report the state of the weather, and fiddling away, move on to the next halting place. Christmas-Eve was a great night for the display of the churches. On the ringing of the bells at midnight the inhabitants flocked to the churches, bearing with them the largest candles they could proThe churches were tastefully decked with evergreens, and made vocal with all the music available. The service in commemoration of our Saviour is called the Oie'l Woirrey. Before daybreak the singers go through the streets chanting, "Christians, awake," and other hymns appropriate to the occasion.



The Lord of Misrule was a mock dignity connected in the olden time with the festivities of Christmas. This ceremony was chiefly held in the halls of the great.

George Ferrers, of Lincoln Inn, was Lord of Misrule of the merry disports for twelve days, when King Edward VI. kept his Christmas at Greenwich, 1553, to his Majesty's great

delight in the diversion. At a Christmas kept in the hall of the Middle Temple, in the year 1635, the jurisdiction, privileges, and parade of this mock monarch are thus described:-He was attended by his lord keeper, lord treasurer, with eight white staves, a captain of his band of pensioners, and of his guard, and with two chaplains. He dined in the hall, and in his privy-chamber, under a cloth of estate. The poleaxes for his gentlemen pensioners were borrowed of Lord Salisbury; Lord Holland, his temporary justice in eyre, supplied him with venison on demand, and the Lord Mayor and sheriffs of London with wine. On the twelfth day on going to church he received many petitions, which he gave to his master of requests. His expenses, all from his own purse, amounted to two thousand pounds. After he was deposed the king knighted him at Whitehall.



From every hedge is pluck'd by eager hands
The holly branch with prickly leaves replete,
And fraught with berries of a crimson hue;
Which torn asunder from its parent trunk,
Is straightway taken to the neighbouring towns,
Where windows, mantels, candlesticks, and

Quarts, pints, decanters, pipkins, basons, jugs,
And other articles of household ware,
The verdant garb confess.

This custom the Christians appear to have copied from their pagan ancestors. Where Druidism prevailed in Greece, the houses were decked with evergreens in December, that the sylvan spirits might repair to them, and re


main unnipped by the frosts and cold winds until a milder season had renewed the foliage of their darling abodes. Stow, in his Survey of London, says that "against the feast of Christmas every man's house, as also their parish churches, were decked with holme, ivy, bayes, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green. The standards and conduits of the streets were also garnished: among which we read that in the year 1444, by a tempest on the evening of Candlemas Day, at the Leadenhall, in Cornhill, a standard of tree, being set up in the middle of the pavement fast in the ground, nailed full of holme and ivie for disport of Christmas to the people, was torn up and cast down by the malignant spirit, and the stones of the pavement all about were cast into the street and into divers houses, so that the people were sore aghast at the great tempest." In the North of England the pulpit, reading-desk, and pews of the churches are adorned with branches of holly. From this it seems that holly was used only to deck the insides of houses at Christmas, while ivy was used not only as a visitor's sign, but also among the evergreens at funerals. The mistletoe of the oak is said to be good for the disease of children, the kind which is found on the apple is supposed to be a cure for fits. It was never used to adorn churches, for it was considered an heathenish and profane plant, as having been of such distinction in the pagan rites of Druidism and it therefore had its place assigned it in kitchens, where it was hung up in great state, and whatever female passed under it, any young man present had the right of saluting her and of plucking off a berry at each kiss. W. B. EASTWOOD.

I HAVE a tiny, tiny spray

Of mistletoe amongst my treasures, A relic of a bygone day,


Remembrancer of scattered pleasures. The leaves are yellow, faded, dry; The snow-white berries gone for ever; Yet, till the day when I shall die,

I'll cease to prize my relic, never! The times of "auld lang syne" it brings Back to my mournful recollection; And in my ear sweet chiming rings, That aids me in my sad reflection. That was a merry Christmas time,A day I ever shall remember, A day of frost and snow and rime, That twenty-second of December. My love was young and ardent then, Not to be chilled by frosty weather; And Janie loved her cousin Ben,

And so we two were glad together.

But on the eve of that cold day,

It was that first I made confession Of my deep love, I scarce need say, That Jane of hers made sweet concession.

The bells were chiming in the night,

As we our mutual troth thus plighted, And Heaven looked down with star-soft light, As we each other's love requited.

That tiny sprig of mistletoe

She gave me; and 'neath its protection
I stole sweet kisses; now you know
Why linked it is with my affection!

But two short days, by Christmas Eve,
When snow o'erspread the ground before me,
Dear Jane was gone; so now I grieve
While she an angel watches o'er me.

So now you cannot fail to know
Why thus I prize my mistletoe.

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