BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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CHRISTMAS EVE.                                        161
CHRISTMAS EVE.
24TH DECEMBER.
" Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated, This bird of dawning singeth all night long : And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad; The nights are wholesome ; then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow'd and so gracious is the time."
Hamlet.
The progress of the Christmas celebrations has, at length, brought us up to the immediate threshold of that high day, in honor of which they are all instituted; and, amid the crowd of festivities by which it is, on all sides, surrounded, the Christian heart makes a pause, to-night. Not that the Eve of Christmas is marked by an entire abstinence from that spirit of festival by which the rest of this season is distinguished,—nor that the joyous character of the event, on whose immediate verge it stands, requires that it should. No part of that season is more generally dedicated to the assembling of friends, than are the great day, itself, and the eve which ushers it in. Still, however, the feelings of rejoicing, which properly belong to the blessed occasion, are chastened by the immediate presence of the occasion itself; and touching tra­ditions and beautiful superstitions have given an air of solemnity to the night, beneath whose influence the spirit of commemoration assumes a religious character, and takes a softened tone.
Before, however, touching upon the customs and ceremonies of the night,—or upon those natural superstitions which have hung themselves around its sacred watches,—we must take a glimpse at an out-of-door scene, which forms a curious-enough feature of
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