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.
75
hoarie headed man was of great yeares, and as white as snow, he entered the Romish Kallendar time out of mind, as o'd or very neer as Father Mathusalem was, one that looked fresh in the Bishops' time, though their fall made him pine away ever since ; he was full and fat as any divine doctor, on them all, he looked under the consecrated lawne sleeves, as big as Bulbeefe, just like Bacchus upon a tunne of wine, when the grapes hang shaking about his eares ; but since the Catholike liquor is taken from him he is much wasted, so that he hath looked very thin and ill of late." " The poor," says the cryer to the lady, " are sory for" his departure, " for they go to every door a-begging, as they were wont to do (good Mrs., Somewhat against this good time), but Time was transformed, Away, be gone, here is not for you." The lady, however, declares that she, for one, will not be deterred from welcoming old Christmas. " No, no," says she, " bid him come by night over the Thames, and we will have a back-door open to let him in;"—and ends by anticipating better prospects for him another year.
And by many a back-door was the old man let in, to many a fire-side, during the heaviest times of all that persecution and disgrace. On the establishment of the Commonwealth, when the more settled state of things removed some of the causes which had opposed themselves to his due reception, the contests of oppo­sition between the revived spirit of festival and the increased sectarian austerity became more conspicuous. There is an order of the parliament, in 1652, again prohibiting the observance of Christmas-day—which proves that the practice had revived ; and there are examples of the military having been employed to disperse congregations assembled for that purpose. In the " Vindication of Christmas," published about this time, the old gentleman, after complaining bitterly of the manner in which he was " used in the city, and wandering into the country, up and down, from house to house, found small comfort in any," asserts his determination not to be so repulsed :—" Welcome, or not welcome," says he, " 1 am come." In a periodical publication of that day, entitled " Mercurius Democritus, or a True and perfect Nocturnall, communicating many strange wonders, out of the world in the Moon, &c," the public are encouraged to keep Christmas,
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