Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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THE CHRISTIAN FEAST
In England there appears to be no trace of the custom, which is however found in Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Bohemia, Roumania, Poland, and Russia.5*
In Thuringia a curious carol used to be sung, telling how *Herod tried to tempt the Wise Men—
" ' Oh, good Wise Men, come in and dine ; I will give you both beer and wine, And hay and straw to make your bed, And nought of payment shall be said.'"
But they answer :—
"' Oh, no ! oh, no ! we must away, We seek a little Child to-day, A little Child, a mighty King, Him who created everything.' " 52
In Tyrol the " star-singing " is very much alive at the present day. In the Upper Innthal three boys in white robes, with blackened faces and gold paper crowns, go to every house on Epiphany Eve, one of them carrying a golden star on a pole. They sing a carol, half religious, half comic—almost a little drama—and are given money, cake, and drink. In the Ilsethal the boys come on Christmas Eve, and presents are given them by well-to-do people. In some parts there is but one singer, an old man with a white beard and a turban, who twirls a revolving star. A remarkable point about the Tyrolese star-singers is that before anything is given them they are told to stamp on the snowy fields outside the houses, in order to promote the growth of the crops in summer.53
In Little Russia the " star " is made of pasteboard and has a transparent centre with a picture of Christ through which the light of a candle shines. One boy carries the star and another twirls the points.54 In Roumania it is made of wood and adorned with frills and little bells. A representation of the " manger," illuminated from behind, forms the centre, and the star also shows pictures of Adam and Eve and angels.SS
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