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.                               31
without erecting themselves always on stilts for the purpose of attracting it; and names have come down to us which are esteemed the names of grave, and learned, and wise men,—even in this grave, and learned, and wise age,—who, nevertheless, appear, in their own, to have conducted themselves, at times, very like children.
From the royal Household-Books which exist, and from the Household-Books of noble families (some of which have been printed for better preservation), as also from the other sources to which we have alluded, Mr. Sandys, in the very valuable intro­duction to his collection of Christmas carols, already mentioned, has brought together a body of valuable information,—both as to the stately ceremonies, and popular observances, by which the. season continued to be illustrated, from an early period, up to the time of its decline, amid the austerities of the civil war. To this careful compilation we shall be occasionally indebted, for some curious particulars which had escaped ourselves, amid the multi­plied and unconnected sources from which our notes for this volume had to be made. To those who would go deeper into the the antiquarian part of the subject than suits the purpose of a popular volume, we can recommend that work,—as containing the most copious and elaborate synopsis of the existing information connected therewith, which we have found in the course of our own researches. It would be impossible, however, in a paper of that length,—or indeed in a volume of any moderate size,—to give an account of all the numerous superstitions and observances of which traces are found, in an extended inquiry, to exist,—throw, ing light upon each other, and contributing to the complete his­tory of the festival. We have therefore gleaned, from all quarters, those which appear to be the most picturesque, and whose relation is the most obvious,—with a view, as much as possible, of gene­ralizing the subject, and presenting its parts in relation to an intel*-ligible whole.
As we shall have occasion, in our second part, to speak of those peculiar feelings and customs by which each of the several days of the Christmas festival is specially illustrated, we shall not at present pause to go into any of the details of the subject,—although con­tinually tempted to do so, by their connexion with the obscrva-
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