BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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draw him along; when it happens that, moving so swiftly on so slippery a place, they all fall headlong. Others there are, who are still more expert in these amusements on the ice ; they place certain bones, the leg bones of animals, under the soles of their feet, by tying them round their ankles; and then, taking a pole, shod with iron, into their hands, they push themselves forward by striking it against the ice; and are carried on with a velocity equal to the flight of a bird, or a bolt discharged from a cross-bow." But amongst all the amusements which, in cities, contribute to make the Christmas time a period of enchantments for the young and happy, there is another, which must not be passed over with­out a word of special notice ; and that one is the theatre—a world of enchantment in itself. We verily believe that no man ever forgets the night on which, as a boy, he first witnessed the repre­sentation of a play. All sights and sounds that reached his senses before the withdrawing of the mysterious curtain,—all things which preceded his introduction to that land of marvels which lies beyond—are mingled inextricably with the memories of that night, and haunt him through many an after year. The very smell of the lamps and orange-peel, the discordant cries, the ring­ing of the prompter's bell, and above all, the heavy dark green curtain itself, become essential parts of the charm in which his spirit is long after held. It was so with ourselves;—and though many a year is gone by since that happy hour of our lives, and most of the spells which were then cast have been long since broken, yet we felt another taken from us when, at Drury Lane, an attempt was made to substitute a rich curtain of crimson and gold, for the plain dark fall of green. And then the overture ! the enchanting prelude to all the wonders that await us!—the unearthly music leading us into fairy land! the incantation, at whose voice, apparently, the mysterious veil on which our eyes have been so long and so earnestly riveted, rises, as if by its own act, and reveals to us the mysteries of an enchanted world. From that moment, all things that lie on this side the charmed boundary are lost sight of;—and all the wonders that are going on beyond it are looked on with the most undoubting faith. It is not, for a moment, suspected that the actors therein are beings of natures like ourselves,—nor is there any questioning but that we
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