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.                                 489
At Christmas and the New Year, the opulent burghers begin to feast with their friends, and go a round of visits, which takes up the space of many weeks. Upon such occasions the gravest is expected to be merry, and to join in a cheerful song.—Sinclair, Stat. Ace. of Scotland, 1793, vol. v. p. 48.
From the same authority we learn that, in the parish of Kirkden, on Christmas Day, the servant is free from his master, and goes about visiting his friends and acquaintances. The poorest man must have beef or mutton on the table, and what they call a dinner with their friends. They amuse themselves with various diversions, particularly with shooting for prizes, called here wad-shooting, and many do but little business all the Christmas week.—Ibid. vol. ii. p. 509.
Christmas morn is welcomed at St. Fergus by liberal libations of drinking-sowins, or, as they are called by the old people, knotting-sowins; and by the gathering of friends and neighbours around the social hearth. That the humblest householder in the parish may have his Christmas cakes, a distribution of meal, the gift of a benevolent individual, is annually made by the kirk-session on Christmas Day, to the poor on the roll.—Stat. Ace. of Scotland, 1845, vol. xii. p. 198.
In certain parts also of the county of Aberdeen, the custom of not working during the three days of Christmas (Old Style) is still kept up. Straw, termed "yule straw," is gathered beforehand, and everything needed for food and fuel prepared in a similar way, so that the festival may be kept in peace.—N. & Q. 3rd S. vol. ii. p. 483.
In the account of Keith, given in the Stat Ace. of Scotland (1793, vol. v. p. 428), the inhabitants are said to have no
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