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.                                    483
lambs-wool, and furmity made of barley-meal, which last was also an essential of the breakfast-table.
Between Christmas Day and the New Year it is customary in the North Riding of Yorkshire to give every visitor a slice of "pepper cake" (a spiced gingerbread cake) and cheese and a glass of gin.
In the North Eiding of Yorkshire it is also the custom for the parishioners, after receiving the Sacrament on Christmas Day, to go from church directly to the ale-house, and there drink together as a testimony of charity and friendship.—Aubrey, MS. quoted in Time's Telescope, 1826, p. 293.
At Filey, on Christmas morning before break of day, there existed formerly the greatest uproar, by numbers of boys going round from house to house, rapping at every door, and roaring out, "I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year," which words were vociferated again and again till the family awoke and admitted the clamorous visitor; who, if he were the first* was treated with money or cheese and gingerbread, which were also distributed, but less liberally, to subsequent visitors. No persons (boys ex­cepted) ever presumed to go out of doors till the threshold had been consecrated by the entrance of a male. Females had no part in this matter, and if a damsel, lovely as an angel, entered first, her fair form was viewed with horror as an image of death.—Cole, Antiquities of Filey, 1828, p. 137.
At Huddersfield the children carry about a " wessel-bob," or large bunch of evergreens hung with oranges and apples, and coloured ribbons, singing the following carol:
" Here we come a wassailing Among the leaves so green, Here we come a wandering So fair to be seen.
Chorus. For it is in Christmas time
Strangers travel far and near, So God bless you and send you a happy
New year.
* The custom of frst footing seems to have been confined in other places to New Year's Morning.
2 I 2
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