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.                               65
abroad in all the land; and every Ruth had leave to " eat of the bread, and dip her morsel in the vinegar." At that great harvest of rejoicing, all men were suffered to glean ; and they with whom, at most other seasons, the world had " dealt very bitterly,"— whose names were Mara, and who eat sparingly of the bread of toil—gleaned, " even among its sheaves," and no man reproached them. The old English gentleman, like the generous Bethlehem-ite, in the beautiful story, even scattered that the poor might gather; and " commanded his young men, saying, * * * let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for them, and leave them, that they may glean them, and rebuke them not:"—and the prayer of many a Naomi went up, in answer,—" blessed be he that d.d take knowledge of thee ;"—" blessed be he of the Lord !"
In a word, the blaze of royal and noble celebration was as a great beacon to the land, seen afar off by those who could not share in its warmth, or sit under the influence of its immediale inspirations. But it was answered from every hill-top, and repeated in every valley, of England; and each man flung the Yule log, on his own fire, at the cheering signal. The hearth, according to Aubrey, at the first introduction of coals, was usually in the middle of the room ; and he derives from thence the origin of the saying, " Round about our coal fire." But whether the huge faggot cracked and flustered within those merry circles, or flared and roared up the ample chimneys,—all social feelings, and all beautiful superstitions and old traditions, and local observances, awoke at the blaze ; and, from their thousand hiding places, crept out the customs and ceremonials which crowd this festal period of the year,—and of which it is high time that we should proceed to give an account, in these pages. The charmed log that (duly lighted with the last year's brand, which, as we learn from Her-rick, was essential to its virtue), scared away all evil spirits— attracted all beneficent ones. The 'squire sat, in the midst of his tenants, as a patriarch might amid his family ; and appears to have had no less reverence, though he compounded the wassail-bowl with his own hands, and shared it with the meanest of his dependents. The little book from which we have more than once quoted, by the title of " Round about our Coal-fire," furnishes us 6
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