Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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THE YULE LOG
daly in Provence calignaou (from Kalendae, of course) or trefoir, in Orne trefouet. On Christmas Eve in Provence the whole family goes solemnly out to bring in the log. A carol meanwhile is sung praying for blessings on the house, that the women may bear children, the nanny-goats kids, and the ewes lambs, that corn and flour may abound, and the cask be full of wine. Then the youngest child in the family pours wine on the log in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The log is then thrown upon the fire, and the charcoal is kept all the year and used as a remedy for various ills.11
Another account is given in his Memoirs by Fred6ric Mistral, the Provencal poet. On Christmas Eve everyone, he says, speaking of his boyhood, sallied forth to fetch the Yule log, which had to be cut from a fruit-tree :—
" Walking in line we bore it home, headed by the oldest at one end, and I, the last born, bringing up the rear. Three times we made the tour of the kitchen, then, arrived at the flagstones of the hearth, my father solemnly poured over the log a glass of wine, with the dedicatory words:
'Joy, joy. May God shower joy upon us, my dear children. Christmas brings us all good things. God give us grace to see the New Year, and if we do not increase in numbers may we at all events not decrease.'
In chorus we responded :
' J°y> j°y> j°y ' ' anc* lifted the log on the fire dogs. Then as the first flame leapt up my father would cross himself, saying, 'Burn the log, O fire,' and with that we all sat down to the table."12
In some places the trefoir or tison de Noel is burnt every evening during the Thirteen Nights. If put under the bed its charcoal protects the house all the year round from lightning ; contact with it preserves people from chilblains and animals from various diseases; mixed with fodder it makes cows calve ; its brands thrown into the soil keep the corn healthy. In PeVigord the por­tion which has not been burnt is used to form part of a plough, and is believed to make the seed prosper ; women also keep some fragments until Epiphany that their poultry may thrive., In
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