BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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ST. THOMAS'S DAY.                                    141
and a great variety of others. In this long enumeration, our readers will recognize many which have come down to the present day,—and form, still, the amusement of their winter evenings, at the Christmas-tide, or on the merry night of Halloween. For an account of many of those which are no longer to be found in the list of holiday games, we must refer such of our readers as it may interest to Brand's " Popular Antiquities," and Strutt's " English Sports." A description of them would be out of place in this volume ; and we have mentioned them, only as confirming a remark which we have elsewhere made; viz.—that, in addition to such recreations as arise out of the season, or belong to it in a special sense,—whatever other games or amusements have, at any time, been of popular use, have generally inserted themselves into this lengthened and joyous festival; and that all the forms in which mirth or happiness habitually sought expression, congre­gated, from all quarters, at the ringing of the Christmas bells.
To the Tregetours, or jugglers, who anciently made mirth at the Christmas fire-side, there are several allusions in Chaucer's tales; and Aubrey, in reference thereto, mentions some of the tricks by which they contributed to the entertainments of the season. The exhibitions of such gentry, in modern times, are generally of a more public kind,—and it is rarely that they find their way to our fire-sides. But we have, still, the galantee-showman, wandering up and down our streets and squares—with his musical prelude and tempting announcement, sounding through the sharp evening air,—and summoned into our warm rooms, to display the shadowy marvels of his mysterious box, to the young group who gaze, in great wonder and some awe, from their inspiring places by the cheerful hearth.
Not that our fire-sides are altogether without domestic fortune­tellers, or amateur practitioners in the art of sleight-of-hand. But the prophecies of the former are drawn from—and the feats of the other performed with—the cards. Indeed we must not omit to particularize cards, as furnishing, in all their uses, one of their great resources, at this season of long evenings and in-door amusements,—as they appear, also, to have formed an express feature of the Christmas entertainments of all ranks of people, in old times. We are told that the squire, of three hundred a-year,
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