BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search



Share page  


Previous Contents Next

116                             THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
Notwithstanding all this, however, Brand is of opinion that its heathen origin should exclude it, at all events, from the decora­tions of our churches;—and quotes a story told him by an old sexton at Teddington, in Middlesex, of the clergyman of that place having observed this profane plant intermingled with the holly and ivy which adorned the church, and ordered its immediate removal. Washington Irving, who has studied old English cus­toms and manners with sincere regard, introduces a similar rebuke, from the learned parson to his unlearned clerk, in his account of the Christmas spent by him at Bracebridge Hall.
The reverence of the misletoe amongst the ancient Britons, appears, however, to have been limited to that which grew upon the oak ; whereas the viscum album, or common misletoe,—the sight of whose pearly berries brings the flush into the cheek of the maiden of modern days,—may be gathered, besides, from the old apple-tree, the hawthorn, the lime-tree, and the Scotch, or the silver, fir. Whether there remain any traces of the old supersti­tions which elevated it into a moral or a medical amulet,—beyond that which is connected with the custom alluded to in the opening of our remarks upon this plant—we know not. We should, how­ever, be very sorry to see any light let in amongst us, which should fairly rout a belief connected with so agreeable a privilege as this. That privilege, as all our readers know, consists in the right to kiss any female who may be caught under the misletoe bough,—and, we may hope, will continue, for ks own pleasant­ness, even if the superstition from which it springs should be finally lost. This superstition arose, clearly enough, out of the old mystic character of the plant in question,—and erects it into a charm, the neglect of which exposes to the imminent danger of all the evils of old-maidenism. For, according to archdeacon Nares, the tradition is, " that the maid who was not kissed under it, at Christmas, would not be married in that year,"—by which, we presume, the archdeacon means in the following year. Accordingly, a branch of this parasitical plant was hung (for­merly with great state, but now it is generally suspended with much secresy), either from the centre of the roof, or over the door ; and we recommend this latter situation to our readers, both as less exposed to untimely observation, and because every
Previous Contents Next