Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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Other cake customs are associated with the Epiphany, and will be considered in connection with that festival. We may here in conclusion notice a few further articles of Christmas good cheer.
In Italy and Spain41 a sort of nougat known as torront 01 turron is eaten at Christmas. You may buy it even in London in the Italian quarter ; in Eyre Street Hill it is sold on Christmas Eve on little gaily-decked street stalls. Its use may well be .1 survival of the Roman custom of giving sweet things at the Kalends in order that the year might be full of sweetness.
Some Little Russian feasting customs are probably pagan in origin, but have received a curious Christian interpretation. All Little Russians sit down to honey and porridge on Christmas Eve. They call it koutia, and cherish the custom as something that distinguishes them from Great and White Russians. Each dish is said to represent the Holy Crib. First porridge is put in, which is like putting straw in the manger ; then each person helps himself to honey and fruit, and that symbolizes the Babe. A place is made in the porridge, and then the honey and fruit are poured in ; the fruit stands for the body, the honey for the spirit or the blood.42
Something like this is the special dish eaten in every Roumanian peasant household on Christmas Eve—the turte. It is made up of a pile of thin dry leaves of dough, with melted sugar or honey, or powdered walnut, or the juice of the hemp-seed. The turte are traditionally said to represent the swaddling clothes of the Holy Child.43
In Poland a few weeks before Christmas monks bring round small packages of wafers made of flour and water, blessed by a priest, and with figures stamped upon them. No Polish family is without these oplatkl; they are sent in letters to relations and friends, as we send Christmas cards. When the first star appears on Christmas Eve the whole family, beginning with the eldest member, break one of these wafers between themselves, at the same time exchanging good wishes. Afterwards the master and mistress go to the servants' quarters to divide the water there.44
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