Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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the most fascinating feature of the modern tree. These appear, however, in a Latin work on Christmas presents by Karl Gott­fried Kissling of the University of Wittenberg, written in 1737. He tells how a certain country lady of his acquaintance set up a little tree for each of her sons and daughters, lit candles on or around the trees, laid out presents beneath them, and called her children one by one into the room to take the trees and gifts intended for them.5
With the advance of the eighteenth-century notices of the Weihnachtsbaum become more frequent: Jung Stilling, Goethe, Schiller, and others mention it, and about the end of the century its use seems to have been fairly general in Germany.6 In many places, however, it was not common till well on in the eighteen hundreds : it was a Protestant rather than a Catholic institution, and it made its way but slowly in regions where the older faith was held.7 Well-to-do townspeople welcomed it first, and the peasantry were slow to adopt it. In Old Bavaria, for instance, in 1855 it was quite unknown in country places, and even to-day it is not very common there, except in the towns.8 "It is more in vogue on the whole," wrote Dr. Tille in 1893, " in the Protestant north than in the Catholic south," 9 but its popularity was rapidly growing at that time.
A common substitute for the Christmas-tree in Saxony during the nineteenth century, and one still found in country places, was the so-called "pyramid," a wooden erection adorned with many-coloured paper and with lights. These pyramids were very popular among the smaller bourgeoisie and artisans, and were kept from one Christmas to another.10 In Berlin, too, the pyramid was once very common. It was there adorned with green twigs as well as with candles and coloured paper, and had more resem­blance to the Christmas-tree.11 Tieck refers to it in his story, " Weihnacht-Abend " (1805)."
Pyramids, without lights apparently, were known in England before 1840. In Hertfordshire they were formed of gilt ever­greens, apples, and nuts, and were carried about just before Christmas for presents. In Herefordshire they were known at the New Year.,
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