Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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FEASTING CUSTOMS
top recalls the lucky green boughs we have so often come across, and a resemblance to the libations upon the Christmas log might be seen in the burning brandy.
A dish once prominent at Christmas was " frumenty" or " furmety " (variously spelt, and derived from the Latinlrwl«t«lw;l;, corn). It was made of hulled wheat boiled in milk and seasoned with cinnamon, sugar, &c.5 This too may have been a cereal sacrament. In Yorkshire it was the first thing eaten on Christmas morning, just as ale posset was the last thing drunk on Christmas Eve. Ale posset was a mixture of beer and milk, and each member of the family in turn had to take a " sup," as also a piece of a large apple-pie.6
In the Highlands of Scotland, among those who observed Christmas, a characteristic dish was new sowens (the husks and siftings of oatmeal), given to the family early on Christmas Day in their beds. They were boiled into the consistence of molasses and were poured into as many bickers as there were people to partake of them. Everyone on despatching his bicker jumped out of bed.7 Here, as in the case of the Yorkshire frumenty, the eating has a distinctly ceremonial character.
In the East Riding of Yorkshire a special Yule cake was eaten on Christmas Eve, " made of flour, barm, large cooking raisins, currants, lemon-peel, and nutmeg," and about as large as a dinner-plate.8 In Shropshire "wigs" or caraway buns dipped in ale were eaten on Christmas Eve.9 Again elsewhere there were Yule Doughs or Dows, little images of paste, presented by bakers to their customers.10 We shall see plenty of parallels to these on the Continent. When they are in animal or even human form they may in some cases have taken the place of actual sacrificial victims.11
In Nottinghamshire the Christmas cake was associated with the wassail-bowl in a manner which may be compared with the Macedonian custom described later ; it was broken up and put into the bowl, hot ale was poured over it, and so it was eaten.l~
The wassail-bowl—one cannot leave the subject of English Yuletide feasting without a few words upon this beloved beaker of hot spiced ale and toasted apples ("lambswool "). Wassail is
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