British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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456                                       CHRISTMAS DAY.                           [DEC. 2$.
fully about with toast, sugar, nutmeg, and good Cheshire cheese. The hackin (the great sausage) must be boiled by daybreak, or else two young men must take the maiden (i.e., the cook) by the arms, and run her round the market-place till she is ashamed of her laziness. In Christmas holidays, the tables were all spread from the first to the last; the sirloins of beef, the minced pies, the plum-porridge, the capons, turkeys, geese, and plum-puddings, were all brought upon the board. Every one eat heartily, and was welcome, which gave rise to the proverb, " Merry in the hall when beards wag all."—Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 531.
Boar's Head.—Aubrey, in a MS. dated 1678, says: " Before the last civil wars, in gentlemen's houses at Christmas, the first diet that was brought to table was a boar's head with a lemon in his mouth."
Christmas Book.—A book in which people were accustomed to keep an account of the Christmas presents they received. —Nares' Glossary (Halliwell and Wright), 1857, vol. i. p. 11.
Bustard.—The bustard, says Timbs (Something for Every­body, 1861, p. 148), has almost disappeared; but within memory it might be seen in the Christmas larders of large inns.
Christmas Candles.—These were candles of an uncommon size, and the name has descended to the small candles which children light up at this season. Hampson (Med. AEvi Kalend. vol. i. p. 109), alluding to the custom, says, in some places candles are made of a particular kind, because the candle that is lighted on Christmas Day must be so large as to burn from the time of its ignition to the close of the day, otherwise it will portend evil to the family for the ensuing year. The poor were wont to present the rich with wax tapers, and yule candles are still in the north of Scotland given by merchants to their customers. At one time children at the village schools in Lancashire were required to bring each a mould candle before the parting or separation for the Christmas holidays.
Christmas Carols.—The Christmas carol (said to be derived from cantare to sing, and rola, an interjection of joy) is of very ancient date. Bishop Taylor observes that the ' Gloria in Excelsis,' the well-known hymn sung by the angels to the
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