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.                               61
is in the midst of Christmas. And if the " coming events " of the season " cast their shadows before," so, amid all its cross lights, it would be strange if there were no reflections flung be­hind. The merry spirit which has been awakened, and suffered to play his antics so long, is not to be laid by the exorcism of a word. After so very absolute and unquestioned a sway, it is not to be expected that Momus should abdicate at a moment's notice. Accordingly, we find that, anything enacted to the contrary not­withstanding, the genial feelings of the time, and the festivities springing out of them, contrive to maintain their footing throughout the month of January :—and Christmas keeps lingering about our homes, till he is no longer answered by the young, glad voices to whom he has not, as yet, begun to utter his solemn warnings, and expound his sterner morals,—and for whom his coming is, hith­erto, connected with few memories of pain. Till the merry ur­chins have gone back to school, there will continue to be willing subjects to the Lord of Misrule.
In Scotland, the Abbot of Unreason was frequently enacted by persons of the highest rank ; and James V. is himself said to have concealed his crown beneath the mitre of the merry Abbot. As in England, his revels were shared by the mightiest of the land ; but they appear to have been of a less inoffensive kind, and to have imitated more unrestrainedly the license of the Roman Saturnalia, than did the merry-makings of the South. The mummeries of these personages (a faint reflection of which still exists in the Guisars whom we shall have to mention hereafter), if less costly than those of their brethren in England, were not less showy ; and though much less quaint, were a great deal more free. " The body-guards of the Abbot of Unreason were all arrayed in gaudy colors, bedecked with gold or silver lace, with embroidery and silken scarves, the fringed ends of which floated in the wind. They wore chains of gold, or baser metal gilt, and glittering with mock jewels. Their legs were adorned, and ren­dered voluble by links of shining metal, hung with many bells of the same material, twining from the ancle of their buskins to their silken garters; and each flourished in his hand a rich silk hand­kerchief, brocaded over with flowers. This was the garb of fifty or more youths, who encircled the person of the leader. They
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