BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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SIGNS OF THE SEASON.                                 99
our homes,—and of which the manufacture of mince-pies forms so important an article,—we must turn to the symptoms of the approaching holiday that meet the eye, at every turn which we make out of doors. He who will take the king's highway, in search after these,—planting himself on the outside of a stage­coach,—will have the greater number of such signs brought under his observation, in the progress of a journey which whirls him through town and village, and by park and farm-house.
The road is alive with travellers ; and along its whole-extent there is an air of aimless bustle, if we may so express ourselves —an appearance of active idleness. No doubt, he who shall travel that same road, in the days of hay-making or harvest, will see as dense a population following their avocations in the open air, and swarming in the fields. But then, at those periods of labor, the crowds are more widely scattered over the face of the country ; and each individual is earnestly engaged in the prose­cution of some positive pursuit, amid a silence scarcely broken by the distant whistle or occasional song, that comes faintly to the ear, through the rich sunny air. People are busier without being so bustling. But now, all men are in action, though all men's business seems suspended. The population are gathered together in groups, at the corners of streets, or about the doors of ale­houses ; and the mingling voices of the speakers, and the sound of the merry laugh, come sharp and ringing through the clear frosty air. There is the appearance, every way, of a season of transition. The only conspicuous evidence of the business of life going forward, with a keen and steady view to its ordinary ob­jects, exists in the abundant displays made at the windows of every shopkeeper, in every village, along the road. Vehicles of all kinds are in motion ;—stage-coach, post-chaise, and private car­riage are, alike, filled with travellers, passing, in all directions, to their several places of assembling,—and give glimpses of faces bright with the reawakened affections that are radiating, on all sides, to common centres. Everywhere, hearts are stirred, and pulses quickened, by pleasant anticipations ;—and many a cur­rent of feelings which, for the rest of the year, has wandered only in the direction of the world's miry ways, and been dark­ened by its pollutions, met by the memories of the season, and
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