THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
and he urges the maids to the careful performance of this change, by the following threat:—
" For look, how many leaves there be Neglected there, maids, trust to me, So many goblins you shall see."
The plant by which he orders these to be replaced, for Candlemas-day, is box,—whose turn is to continue,
" Uutil the dancing Easter-day Or Easter's-eve appeare."
Then, the box is to make way for " the crisped yew ;"—which is to be succeeded, at Whitsuntide, by birch, and the flowers of the season ;—and these, again, are to yield to the
" Green rushes, then, and sweetest bents, With cooler oken boughs;"—
whose reign continues, till the period again comes round, of preparation for Christmas. We believe that it is still usual, in many parts of England, to suffer the Christmas greens to remain in the windows of our churches,—and sometimes of our houses,— until Candlemas-eve.
Of those plants, then, which are considered as containing meanings that make them appropriate decorations for the Christmas-tide,—or which have, for any reason, been peculiarly devoted to that season,—the laurel, or bay,-may be dismissed in a few words. Since the days of the ancient Romans, this tree has been, at all times, dedicated to all purposes of joyous commemoration ;—and its branches have been used as the emblems of peace and victory and joy. Of course, its application is obvious to a festival which includes them all;—which celebrates " peace on earth,"—" glad tidings of great joy,"—and a triumph achieved over the powers of evil and the original curse, by the coming of the Saviour.
We may add that, besides forming a portion of the household decorations, it is usual, in some places, to fling branches and sprigs of laurel on the Christmas fire,—and seek for omens, amid the curling and crackling of its leaves :—