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.
135
ST. THOMAS'S DAY.
21ST DECEMBER.
This day—whict is dedicated to the apostle St. Thomas—we have chosen as the opening of the Christmas festivities ; because it is that on which we first seem to get positive evidence of the presence of the old gentleman,—and see the spirit of hospitality and benevo­lence, which his coming creates, brought into active operation. Of the manner in which this spirit exhibits itself in the metropo­lis, we are about, presently, to speak :—but must previously no­tice that, in many of the rural districts of England, there are still lingering traces of ancient customs, which meet at this particu­lar point of time, and under the sanction of that same spirit. These practices, however various in their kinds, are, for the most part, relics, in different shapes, of the old mummeries which we shall have to discuss at length, in the course of the present chap­ter ;—and are but so many distinct forms in which the poor man's appeal is made to the rich man's charity, for a share in the good things of this merry festival.
Amongst these ancient customs, may be mentioned The practice of "going a gooding," which exists in some parts of Kent; and is performed by women, who present sprigs of evergreen and Christmas flowers, and beg for money in return. We believe the term " going a gooding," scarcely requires illustration. It means, simply, going about to wish " good even,"—as, accord­ing to Nares, " fully appears from this passage in Romeo and Juliet:—
* Nurse. God ye good morrow, gentlemen, Mercutio. God ye good den, fair gentlewoman.' "
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