BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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his communications to Sir Thomas Cawarden, " From Green ye second of January and ye ixth day of or rule." In the extract from the Household Book of the Northumberland family, which we have already quoted, mention is also made of the " Playes, Interludes, and Dresinge that is plaid befor his lordship in his hous in the xijth dayes of Christenmas." Stow, however, says that "these Lords, beginning their rule at Allhallond Eve, con­tinued the same till the morrow after the Feast of the Purifica­tion, commonly called Candlemas Day;" and that, during all that time, there were under their direction " fine and subtle dis-guisings, masks and mummeries, with playing at cards for coun­ters, nayles, and points in every house, more for pastimes than for gaine." This would give a reign of upwards of three months to these gentlemen. Dugdale, in describing the revels of the Inner Temple, speaks of the three principal days being All-hal­lows, Candlemas, and Ascension Days—which would extend the period to seven months; and the masque of which we have spoken, as forming the final performance of the celebrated Christ­mas of 1594, described in the " Gesta Grayorum," is stated to have been represented before the queen at Shrove-tide. At the Christmas exhibition of St. John's college, Oxford, held in 1607, Mr. Thomas Tucker did not resign his office till Shrove-Tuesday ; and the costly mask of whioh we have spoken, as being presented by the four Inns of Court, to Charles I., and whose title was " The Triumph of Peace," was exhibited in the February of 1633. In Scotland, the rule of the Abbot of Unreason appears to have been still less limited, in point of time ; and he seems to have held his court, and made his processions, at any period of the year which pleased him. These processions, it appears, were very usual in the month of May (and here we will take occasion to observe, parenthetically, but in connexion with our present subject, that the practice, at all festival celebrations, of selecting some individual to enact a principal and presiding char­acter in the ceremonial, is further illustrated by the ancient May King,—and by the practice, not yet wholly forgotten, of crown­ing, on the first of that month, a Queen of the May. This sub­ject we shall have occasion to treat more fully when we come to
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