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'iU. RIGHTS RESERVED. J THE YULE LOG. THE SPELL OF THE MISTLETOE. Among the Celtic nations the mistletoe was • JUi object of veneration, and at the festival 'Of the winter solstice the Prince of the Druids himself cut a bough of it. The people "Were assembled, and then were led to the ^oois by the priests, who drove in advance j<)f the company two snow-white bullocks. When the oak tree was found which bore the mistletoe the plant was cut with a golden eickle and the bullocks sacrificed. At present it is the custom for the young • men to carry out the doctrine taught by the Scandinavian myth and print a smacking kiss on the lips of any maiden thoughtless • enough to stand beneath the suspended mistletoe bough. But for every such kiss one of the white berries of the mistletoe must be removed, and when all the berries have been kissed away the spell is broken. SUPERSTITIONS OF CHRISTMAS. Probably no season of the year has more old-world notions associated with it than Christmas. Here are a few of the super- stitions still seriously regarded by some people. If a hoop falls off a cask on Christmas Eve there will be a death in the family ere long. If the fire burns brightly on Christmas morning prosperity may be expected, but if it smoulders adversity will come to the family. If one eats a raw egg for the first food on Christmas morning strength to carry heavy weights and to do great deeds will be the result. If a light is allowed to go out on Christmas Eve there will be a fatal illness in the house. After the Christmas dinner shake the tablecloth in the roadway and you will have luck for twelve months. Bread baked on Christmas Eve is supposed never to become mouldy. Our vener- able friends in the country, who have generally a wealth of weather lore, and gravely shake their wiee old heads at the prospect of a hard winter indicated by an unusual profusion of berries on the hawthorns in the autumn, tell us that when Christmas Day falls on a Monday we may expect good but windy weather the rest of the winter. Spring appears to be overlooked by the prophets but the summer will be stormy, and there will be many battles among men, and great mortality among cattle. What happens when Christmas Day falls on a Friday—ominous day !—we are not told, but no doubt the elements and all the agents of < evil are uncommonly lively for twelvo months afterwards. SOME SAD CHRISTMASES. Christmas, which should be, and usually is, ( the maddest, merriest day of all the year, has -sometimes been reddened by bloodshed and blackened by tragedy. One of the most barbarous of the persecutions against the Christians was begun by Diocletian on Christmas Day, A. p. 303, when a church in Nicodemia filled with Christians was ordered by him to be set on fire. Every way of egress was barred, and not a single worshipper escaped the flames. Yuletide in 1066 was a melancholy time in England, which, nevertheless, always cele- brated it with the utmost eagerness. For Harold, the last of the Saxons, had fallen before the Norman Conqueror, and on December 25th of that year William the Conqueror was crowned in Westminster Abbey. The occasion was signalised by the slaughter of a huge crowd of Anglo-Saxons outside of the church, through a mistaken idea that they had risen in revolt. Exactly two years later there was an uprising of the malcontents in the northern counties, who hoped to throw off the Norman yoke. William marched in person against the rebels and directed a universal slaughter. His men surprised several garrisons and put them to the sword. Neither age nor sex was spared, and every house in the disaffected regions was razed to the ground. It is said that over one hundred thousand men, women, and children perished on December 25th, 1068. ► It was on Christmas Day in the year 1170 that Thomas a Beckett, the greatest English cleric of his day, ascended the Cathedral pulpit at Canterbury, and preached what may be called his own funeral sermon. The sen- tences he made use of so angered Henry II. that he let fall those fatal words If any- body loved me he would rid me of this turbulent priest." Four knights took him at his word, and on December 29th they slew the prelate before the altar of St. Benedict in the northern transept of Canterbury Cathedral. On December 25th, 1384, John Wycliffe died as he was about to preach his Christmas sermon. One of the saddest Christmases known in London was that of the year 1663. The Great Plague had stricken the city and the people were dying at the rate of a thousand a • day. THE SACRED THORN OF GLASTON- BURY. Six miles north-west of the quiet little • Cpiseopal city of Wells rises a lofty peak r called by the Celtic natives of West Britain a "tor." It is conspicuous for miles around, with the tower of an ancient chapel on its top, and with a neat little country town and the ruins of a noble old abbey. Sufficient evidence remains to shew that the abbey was of vast proportions, occupying in all sixty acres of ground. It was founded by Saxon kings, and further endowed by the Normans and Plantagenets. The grand chancel and its fine chapels were built in the finest style of later Norman architecture, but now little more than crumbling walls and pillars testify to the once great beauty of the abbey. The porch of St. Joseph's Chape], however, is in a fair state of preservation. Outside there grows the famous Glastonbury thorn, ■ that blossoms but for one day in the year, • and that Christmas Day. This tree has a strange history. During his long journey from Palestine St. Joseph of Arimathea. visited the district, he and his twelve companions having been sent by St. Philip the Apostle to convert the theu heathen nation of Britain and to cast out the Druid superstition. St. Joseph and his followers found their way to Glastonbury, then known as "Yniswytryn." They were all a-weary, *,nd arriving on the summit of the hill, Joseph, who was using a hawthorn stick as a walking-staff, stuck it into the ground and it burst into bloom. The present Glastonbury thorn is an offshoot by continued grafting of St. Joseph of Arimathea's walking-staff, and year after year it blossoms at Yuletide, though at other seasons it in no way differs in^appearance^from the ordinary thorn tree. THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS CAROLS. The practice of carol-singing is drawn from the very first ages of the Church. The word is derived from cantare, to sing, and rola, an interjection of joy. Though applied now almost exclusively to Christmas festivities, carolling may mean the singing upon any occasion of festival or rejoicing. Carol-sing- ing is frequently referred to in the Apostles' meetings, but the custom did not become a universal one until the fifteenth century—a ,collection being printed in the early part oT \the sixteenth. We are indebted to the Purik^ for the introduction of a religious flavour to the carols. They were opposed to all customs connected with the Established Church, but, finding that of carol-singing too firm to be uprooted, they contented themselves with directing them into a channel of their own. There are many specimens of the carols of a remote date, one being on exhibition in the British Museum. It is said to have been written in the thirteenth century. Many of these old chants were very gruesome. We give a familiar one of the seventeenth century To-itav vou mny he aHn" near man, With many a thousalld pound To-morrow you may he a dead man, And your" corpse laid under the ground." >.And another, in its literal form, ran thus: "A, my rlere 8011, sayd Yary, A, III v derc, Kiss thy modor, Jhcsu, "With a laughying chcrc." Perhaps the most graceful one is the following: Tell us, thou checre and heavenly tongue, Where is the Bahe that lately sprung, Lies the lily banks among ? The rhymmy was never smooth, and it is to be wondertsf at thai the verses could be set to music.

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