British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Feb. I.]                            CANDLEMAS EVE.                                     53
pulled down, when, according to the popular superstition, not a branch, nor even a leaf, should be allowed to remain.
"Down with the Rosemary and so Down with the Bates and the Misleto: Down with the Holly, Ivie, all Wherewith ye dress the Christmas Hall: That so the superstitious find No one least branch there left behind: For look, how many leaves there be Neglected there (maids trust to me), 80 many goblins you shall see"
Herrick (Resperides, p. 361).
In the place, however, of the Christmas decorations, the " greener box was upraised," and Christmas now was posi­tively at an end. Some indeed, considered this to have been the case on Twelfth Night, and old Tusser, in his Five Hundred Points of good Husbandry, strongly contends for it; but then his head was more full of the cart and plough than of regard for old customs ; and like any other master, he was naturally anxious that the holidays should be ended, and the labourers should get to work again as soon as possible ; and merry-making, however agreeable it may be, will not help to dig the land or sow the grain. But in spite of these wise saws, the truth of which nobody would contest, human feelings are stronger than human reason, and customs, when they tend to pleasure, will maintain their ground till they are superseded, not by privations, but by other forms of amusement.—New Curiosities of Literature, Soane, 1847, vol. i. p. 52.
The following is from Herrick's Hesperides, p. 337,
'Down with the Rosemary and Bayes, Down with the Misleto ; Instead of Holly, now up-raise The greener Box for show.
The Holly hitherto did sway,
Let Box now domineere, Until the dancing Easter Dayf
Or Easter's Eve appeare.
Then youthful Box, which now hath grace
Your houses to renew, Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped Yew.
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