BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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94                              THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
dog-wood, amid the dark colors of the surrounding boughs. The starry heavens, too, at this period of the year, present an occa­sional aspect of extraordinary brilliancy; and the long winter nights are illustrated by a pomp of illumination, presenting mag­nificent contrasts to the cold and cheerless earth, and offering un­utterable revelations at once to the physical and mental eye.
Amongst the traces of a former beauty not utterly extinguished, and the suggestions of a summer feeling not wholly passed away, we have those both of sight and scent and sound. The lark, " all independent of the leafy spring," as Wordsworth says, has not long ceased to pour his anthem through the sky. In propitious seasons, such as we have enjoyed for some years past, he is al­most a Christmas-carol singer. The China-roses are with us still; and, under proper management, will stay with us till the snowdrops come. So will the anemones and the wall-flowers ; and the aconite may be won to come, long " before the swallow dares, and take the winds of January with beauty." The cold air may be kept fragrant with the breath of the scented coltsfoot, and the lingering perfume of the mignonette. Then we have rosemary, too, " mocking the winter of the year with perfume,"—
" Rosemary and rue, which keep Seeming and savor all the winter long."
" It looks," says Leigh Hunt, pleasantly, " as if we need havs no winter, if we choose, as far as flowers are concerned." " There is a story," he adds, " in Boccacio, of a magician who conjured up a garden in winter time. His magic consisted in his having a knowledge beyond his time ; and magic pleasures, so to speak, await on all who choose to exercise knowledge after his fashion."
But what we would allude to more particularly here, are the evergreens which, with their rich and clustering berries, adorn the winter season—offering a provision for a few birds that still remain, and hanging a faint memory of summer about the hedges and the groves. The misletoe with its white berries—the holly (Virgil's acanthus) with its scarlet berries and pointed leaves— the ivy whose berries are green—the pyracanthus, with its ber­ries of deep orange—the arbutus, exhibiting its flowers and fruit
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