Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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CHRISTMAS IN POPULAR DEVOTION
irreverent to the stricter members of the clergy, and the figure of the infant Jesus was in many places no longer rocked in the cradle but enthroned on the altar.52 This usage is described by Naogeorgus (1553) :—
" A woodden childe in clowtes is on the aultar set, About the which both boyes and gyrles do daunce and trymly jet, And Carrols sing in prayse of Christ, and, for to helpe them
heare, The organs aunswere every verse with sweete and solemne cheare. The priestes do rore aloude ; and round about the parentes stande To see the sport, and with their voyce do helpe them and their
hande." 53
The placing of a " Holy Child " above the altar at Christmas is still customary in many Roman Catholic churches.
Protestantism opposed the Ktndelwiegeny on the grounds both of superstition and of the disorderly proceedings that accompanied it, but it was long before it was utterly extinguished even in the Lutheran churches. In Catholic churches the custom did not altogether die out, though the unseemly behaviour which often attended it—and the growth of a pseudo-classical taste—caused its abolition in most places.54
At Tubingen as late as 1830 at midnight on Christmas Eve an image of the Christ Child was rocked on the tower of the chief church in a small cradle surrounded with lights, while the spectators below sang a cradle-song.55 According to a recent writer the " rocking " is still continued in the Upper Innthal.56 In the Tyrolese cathedral city of Brixen it was once performed every day between Christmas and Candlemas by the sacristan or boy-acolytes. That the proceedings had a tendency to be disorderly is shown by an eighteenth-century instruction to the sacristan : " Be sure to take a stick or a thong of ox-hide, for the boys are often very ill-behaved." 57
There are records of other curious ceremonies in German or Austrian churches. At St. Peter am Windberge in Miihlkreis in Upper Austria, during the service on Christmas night a life-sized wooden figure of the Holy Child was offered in
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