BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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20
THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
antiquaries, as to its derivation ;—whose arguments, however, we need not report for the benefit of our readers, till judgment shall have been finally pronounced. When that time shall arrive, we undertake to publish a new edition of the present work, for the purpose of giving our readers an abstract of the pleadings, and acquainting them with the ultimate decision. In the meantime, we will let Sir Walter Scott inform them how—
" The savage Dane, At Iol, more deep the mead did drain ; High on the beach his galleys drew, And feasted all his pirate-crew ; Then, in his low and pine-built hall, Where shields and axes decked the wall, They gorged upon the half-dressed steer, Caroused in sea of sable-beer,— While round, in brutal jest, were thrown, The half-gnawed rib and marrow-bone ; Or listened all, in grim delight, While Scalds yelled out the joys of fight. Then forth in frenzy would they hie, While wildly loose their red locks fly, And, dancing round the blazing pile, They made such barbarous mirth the while, As best might to the mind recall The boisterous joys of Odin's hall."
Amongst other traces of the northern observances which have descended to our times, and of which we shall have occasion, hereafter, to speak, the name of the festival itself has come down, and is still retained by our Scottish brethren, as well as in some parts of England.
The Christian festival of the Nativity, with which these ancient celebrations have been incorporated, appears to have been ap­pointed at a very early period after the establishment of the new religion. Its first positive footsteps are met with in the second century, during the reign of the Emperor Concordius; but the decretal epistles furnish us with traces of it more remote. At whatever period, however, its formal institution is to be placed, there can be no doubt that an event so striking in its manner and bo important in itself, would be annually commemorated amongst
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