BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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82                             THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
tory existence,—and the chance which has brought down to the same point, and thrown together, the traces of customs and super­stitions, both of a sacred and secular character, and uniting with the crowd of catholic observances, off-shoots from the ancient Saturnalia, remains of old Druidical rites, and glimpses into the mythology of the northern nations,—have written a series of hie­roglyphics upon that place of the calendar, which, if they cannot be decyphered in every part, are still, from their number and juxtaposition, never likely to be overlooked.
But, though these causes are offered as accounting for the pre­servation of many customs which, without them, would long since have passed into oblivion,—which exist by virtue of the position they occupy on the calendar,—yet the more conspicuous celebra­tions of this season need no such aids and no such arguments. Nothing can be added to their intrinsic interest; and they are too closely connected with the solemn warnings of man's temporal destiny, and linked with the story of his eternal hopes, ever to lose any portion of that influence, a share of which (without thereby losing, as light is communicated without diminution,) they throw ovei all the other celebrations that take shelter under their wing.
In every way, and by many a tributary stream, are the holy and beneficent sentiments which belong to the period increased and refreshed. Beautiful feelings, too apt to fade within the heart of man, amid the chilling influences of worldly pursuit, steal out baneath the sweet religious warmth of the season ;—and the pure and holy amongst the hopes of earth assemble, to place themselves under the protection of that eternal hope whose promise is now, as it were, yearly renewed. Amid the echoes of that song which proclaimed peace on earth and good will towards men,—making no exclusions, and dividing them into no classes,—rises up a dor­mant sense of universal brotherhood in the heart; and something like a distribution of the good things of the earth is suggested, in favor of those destitute here, who are proclaimed as joint partici­pators in the treasure thus announced from heaven. At no other period of the year are the feeling of an universal benevolence and the sense of a common Adam so widely awakened. At no season is the predominant spirit of selfishness so effectually rebuked ;— never ar "he circles of love so largely widened.
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