BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.
9
of customs, and traditions, and habits, the examination into which has led to many an useful result; and which are, for the most part, worth preserving, as well for their picturesque aspect and social character, as for the sake of the historic chambers which they may yet help us to explore. Their close resemblance, as existing amongst different nations, has formed an element in the solution of more than one problem, which had for its object a chapter of the history of the world ; and they may be said, in many cases, to furnish an apparent link of connection between generations of men, long divided and dwelling far apart. They form, too, amid the changes which time is perpetually effecting in the structure of society, a chain of connexion between the present and former times of the same land : and prevent the national indi­viduality from being wholly destroyed. They tend to preserve some similarity in the moral aspect of a country from epoch to epoch,—and, without having force enough to act as drags on the progress of society towards improvement, they serve for a feature of identification,- amid all its forms. Curious illustrations they are, too, of national history; and we learn to have confidence in its records, when we find, in some obscure nook, the peasant of to-day, who troubles himself little with the lore of events and their succession, doing that which some ancient chronicler tells us his ancestors did, a thousand years ago,—and keeping, in all simpli­city, some festival, the story of whose origin we find upon its written page.
To the philosophic inquirer, few things are more important, in the annals of nations, than their festivals, their anniversaries, and their public celebrations of all kinds. In nothing is their peculiar character more strikingly exhibited. They show a people in its undress, acting upon its impulses, and separated from the conven­tions and formalities of its every-day existence. We may venture to say that, could we, in the absence of every other record, be fur­nished with a complete account of the festivals, traditions, and anniversaries of any given nation, now extinct, not only might a correct estimate be, therefrom, made of their progress in morals and civilisation, but a conjectural history of their doings be hazarded, which should bear a closer resemblance to the facts
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