British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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4G6                                       CHRISTMAS DAY.                          DEC 25.
See two interesting articles on the subject by Mr. Chappell in N. & Q. 3rd S. vol. vi. pp. 489, 509.
Yule-clog or Yule-log.—This was generally lighted on Christmas Eve, and was, says Soane, as large as the hearth would admit of, or the means of the rejoicers could supply; and, in some of the northern counties of England, so long as the log lasted, the servants were entitled to ale at their meals. At one time custom prescribed that it should be lighted with a brand of the last year's block, which had been carefully put by and preserved for that purpose, as we find it recorded by Herrick :
" Come bring with a noise, My merrie, merrie boys,' The Christmas log to the firing;
While my good dame, she Bids ye all be free,
And drink to your heart's desiring.
"With the last year's brand
Light the new block, and For good success in his spending,
On your psalteries play That sweet luck may
Come while the log is a tiending." *
It is also requisite that the maidens who blow a fire, should come to the task with clean hands:
" Wash your hands, or else the fire Will not tiend to your desire; Unwash'd hand-*, ye maidens, know, Dead the fire though ye blow."
At Cumnor the parishioners, who paid vicarial tithes, claimed a custom of being entertained at the vicarage, on the afternoon of Christmas Day, with four bushels of malt brewed into ale and beer, two bushels of wheat made into bread, and half a hundred weight of cheese. The remainder was given to the poor the next morning after divine service. —Lysons* Magna Britannia, 1813, vol. i. pt. ii. p. 271.
* To Teend is to kindle, or to burn, from the Anglo-Saxon Tendan to set on fire.
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