BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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110                             THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
Holy hat berys as rede as any rose, The foster the hunters kepe hem from the doos.
Nay, Ivy! &c.
Ivy hath berys as blake as any slo; Ther com the oule and ete hym as she goo
Nay, Ivy! &c.
Holy hath byrdys a ful fayre flok, The Nyghtyngale, the Poppingy, the gayntyl Lavyrok.
Nay, Ivy ! &c.
Good Ivy ! what byrdys ast thou ?
Non but the howlet that kreye ' how, how !'
Nay, Ivy ! nay, hyt shal not, &c."
We had some thoughts of modernising the orthography—and, very slightly, the diction—of this curious old ballad ; but it reads best in its own quaint garb,—and even those of our friends who are not in the habit of perusing ancient writings, will find scarcely any difficulty in making it out.
The rosemary, besides its rich fragrance,—and probably be­cause thereof,—was supposed to possess many occult virtues ; and was used, for the sake of one or other of them, on occasions both of rejoicing and of mourning. It was believed to clear the head, to strengthen the memory, and to make touching appeals to the heart. For these reasons, it was borne both at weddings and at funerals.—Herrick says,
" Grow for two ends : it matters not at all, Be't for my bridal, or my burial."—
" There's rosemary," says Ophelia, " that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember:"—and the custom of decking the corpse with this flower,—as well as that of flinging its sprigs into the grave,—would naturally spring out of this touching supersti­tion. Its presence at bridals would seem to suggest that it was dedicated to hope, as well as to memory. We have, in Shak-speare's play of " Romeo and Juliet," allusions to the use of this herb, on both of these important, but very different, occasions,— which allusions are affecting, from the application of both to the same young girl. The first—which refers to the joyous celebra-
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