THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. S7
There the huge sirloin reeked ; hard by Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pye ; Nor failed old Scotland to produce, At such high-tide, her savory goose. Then came the merry masquers in, »
And carols roared with blithesome din ; If unmelodious was the song, It was a hearty note, and strong. Who lists may, in their mumming, see Traces of ancient mystery ; White shirts supplied the masquerade, And smutted cheeks the visors made: But, O ! what masquers, richly dight, Can boast of bosoms half so light!— England was merry England, when Old Christmas brought his sports again. 'Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale, 'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale; A Christmas gambol oft would cheer The poor man's heart through half the year."
The ceremonies, and superstitions, and sports of the Christmas season, are not only various in various places, but have varied from time to time in the same. Those of them which have their root in the festival itself, are, for the most part, common to all, and have dragged out a lingering existence even to our times. But there are many which, springing from other sources, have placed themselves under its protection, or, naturally enough, sought to associate themselves with merry spirits like their own. Old Father Christmas has had a great many children in his time, some of whom he has survived; and not only so, but in addition to his own lawful offspring, the generous old man has taken under his patronage, and adopted into his family, many who have no legitimate claim to that distinction, by any of the wives to whom he has been united—neither by the Roman lady, his lady of the Celtic family, nor her whom he took to his bosom, and converted from the idolatry of Thor. His family appears to have been, generally, far too numerous to be entertained, at one time, in the same establishment—or indeed by the same community; and to have rarely travelled, therefore, in a body.
In Ben Jonson's Masque of Christmas,—to which we have