BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.                             13
filled the towns, at the expense of the country,—which has anni­hilated the yeomanry of England, and drawn the estated gentle­man from the shelter of his ancestral oaks, to live upon their produce, in the haunts of dissipation,—has been, in itself, the circumstance most unfavorable to the existence of many of them, which delight in bye-ways and sheltered places,—which had their appropriate homes in the old manor house, or the baronial hall. Yet do they pass lingeringly away. Traces of most of them still exist, and from time to time re-appear, even in our cities and towns ; and there are probably scarcely any which have not found some remote district or other, of these islands, in which their influence is still acknowledged, and their rites are duly performed. There is something in the mind of man which attaches him to ancient superstitions, even for the sake of their antiquity,—and endears to him old traditions, even because they are old. We cannot readily shake off our reverence for that which our fathers have reverenced so long, even where the causes in which that reverence originated are not very obvious or not very satisfac­tory. We believe that he who shall aid in preserving the records of these vanishing observances, ere it be too la e, will do good and acceptable service, in his generation: and such contribution to that end as we have in our power, it is the purpose of these volumes to bestow. Of that taste for hunting out the obsolete, which originates in the mere dry spirit of antiquarianism, or is pursued as a display of gladiatorial skill in the use of the intellec­tual weapons, we profess ourselves no admirers. But he who pursues in the track of a receding custom, which is valuable, either as an historical illustration, or because of its intrinsic beauty, moral or picturesque, is an antiquarian of the beneficent kind; and he who assists in restoring observances which had a direct tendency to propagate a feeling of brotherhood and a spirit of benevolence, is a higher benefactor still. Right joyous festivals there have been amongst us. which England will be none the merrier—and kindly ones which she will be none the better—for losing. The following pages will give some account of that sea­son, which has, at all times, since the establishment of Christianity, been most crowded with observances ; and whose celebration is, still, the most conspicuous and universal with us, as well as throughout the whole of Christendom.
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