Hide Articles List

7 articles on this Page





[No title]


MUCH has been written on the festivities and customs of Christmas, and we know nothing better worth writing about than this festival, when the dreariness of winter is dispelled by the cheerfulness of friendship and hospi- tality these customs are, however, rapidly sinking into disuetude in many parts of the country. In the town we know nothing of Christmas but by its roast turkey, mince pies, and plum puddings, except an occasional rubber of whist, or game at loo, at a friend's house but in some parts of the country, Christmas is really a festival for which there are weeks of preparation and, although the wassail-bowl, perhaps, no longer crowns the festive board, yet in one or two counties in England, the Christ- mas Carol is still heard. Christmas-day, like every other great festival, has prefixed to it, in the calendar, a vigil or fast; and in Catholic countries mass is celebrated at midnight after Christmas Eve when austerities cease, and rejoicings of all kinds succeed. Shadows of these customs were, till very lately, preserved in Protestant England. The day of Christmas Eve was passed in an ordinary manner; but at seven or eight o'clock in the evening, cakes were drawn hot from the oven cider or beer exhilarated the spirits in every house, and the singing of carols continued late into the night. On Christmas-day, these carols took the place of psalms in all the churches, especially at afternoon service, the whole congregation joining; and at tue end, it was usual for the parish clerk to declare, in a loud voice, his wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy new year to all the parishioners. None of the sports or gambols, so frequently practised on subsequent days, ever mixed themselves with the religious observances of Christmas-eve. Two of the sports most used in Cornwall were-the one, a metrical play, exhibiting the successful prowess of St. George exerted against a Mahometan adversary; the other, a less dignified representation of some transactions of a market or fair. In the first, St. George enters, accoutred with com- plete armour, and exclaims— Hare come I, Saint George, Toat valiant champion bold, And with my sword and spear I've won three crowns of gold. I slew the dragon, he And brought him to the slaughter, By which I gained fair Sabra, The King of Egypt's daughter. The Pagan enters :— Here come I, the Turkish knight, Come from the Turkish laud to fiJht, -bold, And if your blood is hot, I soon will make it cold." They fight, the Turkish knight falls, and rising on one knee— ) Oh pardon me, Saint George, Oh! pardon me, I crave ° Oh give me but my life, And I will be 3 our slave." Saint George, however, again strikes him down; but immediately relenting, calls out— j Is there no doctor to be found, To cure a deep and deadly wound ?" A doctor enters, declaring that he has a small phial j filled with the juice of some particular plant, capable of < recalling any one to life; he tries, however, and fails; when Saint George kills him, enraged by his want of I success. Soon after this, the Turkish knight appears t perfectly well; and having been fully convinced of his errors by the strength of St. George's arm, he becomes a r Christian, and the scene closes. The Fair or Market, usuall}' followed, as a farce. Several persons arranged on benches were sometimes r supposed to sell corn and one applying to each seller in 8 his turn, inquired the price, using a set form of words, C to be answered in a corresponding manner. If any error were committed, a grave personage was introduced with much ceremony, grotesquely attired, and provided wkh 1 a large stick; who, after stipulating for some ludicrous reward, such as a gallon of moonlight, proceeded to shoe the untamed colt, by striking the person in error on the sole of the foot

[No title]