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.                               Ill
tion,—occurs in an interview between Romeo and the nurse of Juliet,—in which arrangements are making for the secret mar­riage ; where the garrulous old woman observes, as hinting at Juliet's willingness,—" she hath the prettiest sententious of it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you.good to hear it»" The second is in that scene in which Juliet is supposed to behead :—
" Friar. Come, is the bride ready to go to church ? Capulet. Ready to go, but never to return !"
And is inserted amongst the holy father's exhortations to resigna­tion :—
" Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary On this fair corse ; and, as the custom is, In all her best array, bear her to church."
Independently of the beautiful suggestion to remembrance which is made by its enduring peifume, that precious perfume itself would recommend this herb, for reasons less fine, as " strewings fitt'st for graves." The fact of its being in bloom, at this season, would naturally introduce the rosemary, with all its fine morals, into the Christmas celebrations :—and such customs as that which prescribed that the wassail-bowl should be stirred with a sprig of this plant, before it went round amongst friends, seem to have a very elegant reference to its secret virtues (" that's for remembrance," perhaps) ; and suggest that the revel-lings of the season, in those old times, were mingled with the best and most refined feelings of our nature.
But the misletoe !—the mystic misletoe !—where is the man whose school-boy days are gone by, in whom that word conjures up no merry memories ! " Oh ! the misletoe bough !"—who hath not, at the name, thronging visions of sweet faces—that looked sweetest in those moments of their startled beauty, beneath the pendent bough! If the old spells with which superstition has invested the misletoe have lost some of their power over me, it hath now another, which in earlier days I knew not of—the power to restore the distant and to raise the dead. I am to laugh no more, as I have laughed of old, beneath the influence of that mystic cognizance of the gay Christmas-tide:—but, even now as
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