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Christmas for the Little ,".Folks.…

IChristmas Chatter. I —-—

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Christmas Chatter. — — FIRST CHRISTMAS-CARD. I In 1844 one Christmas-card was entrusted to the Post Office, and from that one have sprung all the various and beautiful speci- mens that form such an important feature, both socially and commercially, of this season of the year. This particular Clirist- mas-card ia believed to have been sent by W. E. Dobson, R.A. He had a friend from whom he had received many kindnesses and attentions during the past year of which he j wished to show his appreciation in some way. After some thought, he painted a small picture, symbolising the spirit of Christmas, and sent it by post to his friend. It WAS a sketch of a fainily-gatftefing drink- ing a tonst to "Absent Friends," and sur- rounded by all the comforts and luxuries of Christmas-time. COSTLY CRACKERS. I Perhaps Jthp largest Christmas crackers were thC)serl orclereti some years ago by an Iriah peer. They were 10ft. long, and each contained nearly 200 toys and other articles, These crackers, however, which cost about = £ 10 each, are by no means the costliest which have been made; for many a bashful lover has sent a valuable token of his adora- tion to a fair one under cover of a merry cracker. The costliest cracker on record seems to be one which was constructed of ,-old in such faithful imitation of a sheaf of wheat that its modelling kept an industrious goldsmith hard at work for six months. Tucked away in this gold sheaf was a ring 13M with rare and perfectly-matched pear's The sum paid for this king of crackers, which only measured 4in. in length, was +400. A few years ago a firm in the Mid- lands were ordered to prepare a special pre- sentation box of crackers for a well-known millionaire. The box took the form of an elecrant silver casket, the handiwork of an eminent firm of London silversmiths, which contained six crackers, the wrappers of which were composed of figured satin edged with valuable old lace. The centres of the crnekers were formed of octagonal aperture-; with tiny silver doors, each door being fitted a tiny silver took. and a tinv silver kev hung suspended from the body of the cracker by a silken cord. Each cracker contained a valuable ring or bTooeh, and they were duly presented to the bridesmaids at a fashion- able Christmas wedding. It was undoubtedly the most expensive box of crackers ever pro- duced, having cost over .£250. PICTURESQUE SYRIAN CEREMONY. I An old tradition of Christendom is ob- served in the Ssvrjjn Phmvb-, serviecH are celebrated in a little chapel in an ob- ocuce corner of Constantinople. Legend has it that on the morning of the Nativity the weather was bitterly cold, and the shepherds brought their little contribution of sticks to make a fire to warm the new- born Babe. And so every Christmas morn- ing an iron tray, piled with wood sprinkled with oil, is placed on a table in the body of the church. Every worshipper carries a lighted taper, and at a given time the wood is set alight, the flames soaring aloft. This is the Syrian method of expression of "Glory o God in the Highest." IN THE NAVY. One of the customs of the Navy on Christ- inas Day is to give the nippers a little tran- sient authority. The posts and duties of the principal petty-officers are handed over to the sm.allest boys of the crew, and it is great sport to see the youngsters swaggorin round, giving orders to their superiors whom they have eyed with awe during all the other days of the year. Another old custom is that whilst the band—if there be one—plays "The Rrn,ct Beef of Old England," the captain and h> nfficers pay a state visit to each mess. Two of the biggest men aboard stand at the head of each table, holding out samples of the fare. Captain and officers sample the Christmas pudding, wish the men a Merrv Christmas, and retire, leaving Jack to fall to on the good cheer provided. HOLLY AS MEDICINE. Prone to over-eating at Christmas time, our ancestors had a remedy very near to hand. As they drove, or walked, back from their good old-fashioned parties in the gl s tening snow, the head of the family plucked a good branch of holly-berries from the way- side, and next morning those suffering from the various maladies resulting from a mix- ture of rich foods—for they could eat in those dayg--w,-re dosed with the holly- berries. Ten berries before breakfast were the prescribed medicine, and as they are stated to be "violently emetic," there i- little doubt that the country-folk fonr.-l them a far healthier and less expensive medicine than many present-day antidote. It is probably due to their medicinal effects that holly-berries are disliked by birds. TV feathered tribe only peck at the holly-ber:v when they are very pressed for food dpil" a particularly severe winter. The mi-stl- thrush is the one exception-he rather like- it. I PRETTY NORWEGIAN CUSTOM. Swedes and Norwegians keep Christmas mainly as a family and religious festival. They have one very prettv custom which i- distinctively their own. (3n Christmas Eve they put every pair of boots and shoes in the house together in a Ion- row as a symbol that the family or household shall live together all the coming year in peace and happiness. Here and there, in dull London streets, there are little families of Norwegian emigrants from remote v-alloys. such as the Alten in the Arctic region, the Aardal, and Lairdal, who keep up in a foreign country ancient customs that have died out in the more populous and educated places, even in their own land. They put out meal cakes on their window-sills on •Christmas Eve, a, custom which started as a superstition centuries ago, when people b. lieved that the Christ child passed throng* their street that night, and they feared lr-i vhe should be hungry; afterwards it becaa-e an offering for the birds. Some of tber: put candles in their windows on Christians Eve and kept them burning all night give light to and guide Kristine, the bringer of gifts. This last custom is a parallel to our Farther Chriftmas and the stocking on our children's beds.

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Llandilo Rural District Council.

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VISIT OF EX-GERMAN SUBMARINE…

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