Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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THE EPIPHANY
name of the Fabii, a Roman gens, suggests a totem tribe of
the bean.I4
In eastern Europe, though I know of no election of a king, there
are New Year customs with cakes, closely resembling some of the French practices described a page or two back. "St. Basil's Cake-" on New Year's Eve in Macedonia is a kind of shortbread with a silver coin and a cross of green twigs in it. When all arc seated round the table the father and mother take the cake, " and break it into two pieces, which are again subdivided by the head of the family into shares. The first portion is destined for St. Basil, the Holy Virgin, or the patron saint whose icon is in the house. The second stands for the house itself. The third for the cattle and domestic animals belonging thereto. The fourth for the inanimate property, and the rest for each member of the household according to age. Each portion is successively dipped in a cup of wine." He who finds the cross or the coin in his share of the cake will prosper during the year. The money is considered sacred and is used to buy a votive taper.z5
In Macedonia when the New Year's supper is over, the table, with the remnants of the feast upon it, is removed to a corner of the room in order that St. Basil may come and partake of the food.16 He appears to have been substituted by the Church for the spirits of the departed, for whom, as we have seen, food is left in the West on All Souls' and Christmas Eves. Probably the Mace­donian practice of setting aside a portion of the cake for a saint, and the pieces cut in France for le bon DieuznA the Virgin or the three Magi, have a like origin. One may compare them with the Serbian breaking of the kolatch cake in honour of Christ " the Patron Namegiver." Is it irrelevant, also, to mention here the Greek Church custom, at the preparation of the elements for the Eucharist, of breaking portions of the bread in memory ot the Virgin and other saints ?
In many countries the Epiphany is a special time for the expulsion of evils. At Brunnen in Switzerland boys go about in procession on Twelfth Night, with torches and lanterns, and make a great noise with horns, bells, whips, &C, in order to
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