Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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PAGAN SURVIVALS
this season. It is believed that on the night between All Saints' and All Souls' the church is lighted up and the departed attend a nocturnal Mass celebrated by a phantom priest. All through the week, in one district, people are afraid to go out after nightfall lest they should see some dead person.10 In Tyrol it is believed that the " poor souls " are present in the howling winds that often blow at this time.11
In the Abruzzi on All Souls' Eve " before people go to sleep they place on the table a lighted lamp or candle and a frugal meal of bread and water. The dead issue from their graves and stalk in procession through every street of the village. . . . First pass the souls of the good, and then the souls of the murdered and the damned." I2
In Sicily a strange belief is connected with All Souls' Day (jornu di li morti) : the family dead are supposed, like Santa Klaus in the North, to bring presents to children ; the dead relations have become the good fairies of the little ones. On the night between November i and 2 little Sicilians believe that the departed leave their dread abode and come to town to steal from rich shopkeepers sweets and toys and new clothes. These they give to their child relations who have been " good" and have prayed on their behalf. Often they are clothed in white and wear silken shoes, to elude the vigilance of the shopkeepers. They do not always enter the houses ; sometimes the presents are left in the children's shoes put outside doors and windows. In the morning the pretty gifts are attributed by the children to the morti in whose coming their parents have taught them to believe.,
A very widespread custom at this season is to burn candles, perhaps in order to lighten the darkness for the poor souls. In Catholic Ireland candles shine in the windows on the Vigil of All Souls',I4 in Belgium a holy candle is burnt all night, or people walk in procession with lighted tapers, while in many Roman Catholic countries, and even in the Protestant villages of Baden, the graves are decked with lights as well as flowers.,
Another practice on All Saints' and All Souls' Days, curiously
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