British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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DEC. 25.]                           CHRISTMAS DAY.                                       473
persons perambulating the various towns and villages in the evenings, fantastically dressed, and armed with swords, calling as they proceed, " Who wants to see the White Boys act ?" When their services are engaged they, like the Scotch guisards or Quhite boys of Yule, perform a rude drama, in which St. George, Prince Valentine, King of Egypt, Sambo, and the Doctor are the dramatis personce.
It was customary in the Isle of Man for every family that could afford it to have a brewing called Jough-ny-nollick, i.e, Christmas drink, prepared for the festivities of the season. On such occasions one brewing-kettle generally served a whole neighbourhood, which gave rise to the monk's proverb, " To go about like a brewing-pan."—Ibid. p. 127.
Malcolm, in his Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London (1811, p. 259), speaking of Christmas Day, says :— " It was a day of grand difference in the judgment of some, and in the C ty of London some opened their shops, but to stop mutinying they were shut up again; yet do very few understand what the difference is that is now embraced in the judgments of those who desire the reformation from Popish innovation, but to give such further satisfaction herein, it is the opinion of these that it is a day wherein it is very fit for the people of God to congregate in the church to hear the Word of God preached, but not a holiday or such a day as is of absolute necessity to be kept holy ; it is a day wherein it is no sin for a man to follow his calling, and he must not by a Popish innovation adore the day."
Inns of Court.—There were anciently great doings in the halls of the Inns of Court at Christmas. At the Inner Temple early in the morning the gentlemen of the Inn went to church, and after the service they repaired into the hall to breakfast with brawn, mustard, and malmsey. At the first course at dinner was " served in, a fair and large Bore's heq-d upon a silver platter, with minstralsye."—Dugdale's Grig. Jurid. A correspondent of N. & Q. (5th S. vol. ii. p. 507), alluding to the time-honoured custom of the Boar's Head Feast at
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