Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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account of a Welsh Christmas custom quoted by Su Laurence Gomme, in his book "The Village Community," from the
Oswestry Observer of March 2, 1887 :—"In South Cardiganshire it seems that about eighty years ago the population, rich and poor, male and female, of opposing parishes, turned out on Christmas Day and indulged in the game of football with such vigour that it became little short of a serious fight." Both in north and south Wales the custom was found. At one place, Llanwenog near Lampeter, there was a struggle between two parties with different traditions of race. The Bros, supposed to be descendants from Irish people, occupied the high ground of the parish ; the Blaenaus, presumably pure-bred Brythons, occupied the lowlands. After morning service on Christmas Day, "the whole of the Bros and Blaenaus, rich and poor, male and female, assembled on the turnpike road which divided the highlands from the Lowlands." The ball was thrown high in the air, "and when it fell Bios and Blaenaus scrambled for its possession. ... If the Bros, by honk or by crook, could succeed in taking the ball up the mountain to their hamlet of Rhyddlan they won the day, while the Blaenaus were successful if they got the ball to their end of the parish at New Court." Many severe kicks were given, and the whole-thing was taken so keenly " that a Bro or a Blaenau would as soon lose a cow from his cowhouse as the football from his portion of the parish." There is plainly more than a mere pastime here j the thing appears to have been originally a struggle betwo n two clans.51
Anciently the Carnival, with its merrymaking before the austerities of Lent, was held to begin at the Epiphany. This was the case in Tyrol even in the nineteenth century.52 \, a rule, however, the Carnival in Roman Catholic countries restricted to the last three days before Ash Wednesday. The pagan origin of its mummeries and licence is evident, but it is a spring rather than a winter festival, and hardly calls for treat­ment here.
The Epiphany is in many places the end of Christmas. In Calvados, Normandy, it is marked by bonfires; red Barnes mount
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