Jan. 5.] eve of the epiphany. 23
The ox is then tickled, to make him toss his head; if he throw the cake behind, it is the mistress's perquisite; if before (in what is termed the boosy) the bailiff himself claims the prize. The company then return to the house, the doors of which they find locked, nor will they be opened until some joyous songs are sung. On their gaining admittance a scene of mirth ensues, which lasts the greater part of the night.—Gent. Mag. 1791, vol. lxi. p. 116.
According to Blount the inhabitants of this county at one time made a fire on the eve of the Epiphany, in memory of the blazing star that conducted the three Magi to the manger at Bethlehem.
In the neighbourhood of Leeds, families formerly invited their relations, friends, and neighbours to their houses, for the purpose of playing at cards, and partaking of a supper of which mince pies were an indispensable ingredient. After supper was over the wassail-cup or wassail-bowl was brought in, of which every one partook, by taking with a spoon out of the ale a roasted apple and eating it, and then drinking the healths of the company out of the bowl, wishing them a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. The festival of Christmas used in this part of the country to be held for twenty days, and some persons extended it even to Candlemas.
The ingredients put into the bowl, viz., ale, sugar, nutmeg, and roasted apples, were usually called lambs' wool, and the night on which it was drunk was commonly called Wassail Eve.—Gent. Mag. 1784, vol. liv. p. 98.
In Ireland " on Twelve Eve in Christmas, they use to set up as high as they can a sieve of oats, and in it a dozen of caudles set round, and in the centre one larger, all lighted.