BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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THE CHRISTMAS SEASON.                                   23
to courts, they had ever a taste for a country life. Though ac­customed, in those days, to the tables of princes, they sat freely down at the poor man's board. Though welcomed by the peer, they showed no signs of superciliousness, when they found them­selves cheek-by-jowl with the pauper. Nay, they appear even to have preferred the less exalted society: and to have felt them­selves more at ease in the country mansion of the private gentle­man than in the halls of kings. Their reception in those high places was accompanied, as royal receptions are apt to be, by a degree of state repugnant to their frank natures; and they seem never to have been so happy as when they found themselves amongst a set of free and easy spirits, whether in town or coun­try,—unrestricted by the punctilios of etiquette,—who had the privilege of laughing just when it struck them to do so, without inquiring wherefore, or caring how loud.
Then, what a festival they created ! The land rang with their joyous voices ; and the frosty air steamed with the incense of the good things provided for their entertainment. Everybody kept holiday but the cooks; and all sounds known to the human ear seemed mingled in the merry paean, save the gobble of the tur­keys. There were no Turkeys—at least they had lost their " most sweet voices.'' The turnspits had a hard time of it, too. That quaint little book which bears the warm and promising title of ' Round About our Coal Fire," tells us that " by the time dinner was over, they would look as black and as greasy as a Welch porridge-pot." Indeed the accounts of that time dwell, with great and savory emphasis, upon the prominent share which eating and drinking had in the festivities of the season. There must have been sad havoc made amongst the live-stock. That there are turkeys at all, in our days, is only to be accounted for upon the supposition of England having been occasionally replenished with that article from the East; and our present possession of geese must be explained by the well-known impossibility of extinguish­ing the race of the goose. Jt is difficult to imagine a consumption equal to the recorded provision. Men's gastronomic capacities appear to have been enlarged for the occasion,—as the energies expand to meet great emergencies. " The tables," says the same racy authority above quoted, " were all spread from the first to the
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