BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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169
THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
Christmas-eve—and is rather connected with the great festival of to-morrow, than with the hushed and expectant feelings which are the fitting moral condition of to-night.
Everywhere, throughout the British isles, Christmas-eve is marked by an increased activity about the good things of this life. " Now," says Stevenson, an old writer whom we have already quoted, for the customs of Charles the Second's time, " capons and hens, besides turkeys, geese, ducks, with beef and mutton, must all die ; for in twelve days, a multitude of people will not be fed a little ;"—and the preparations, in this respect, of this present period of grace, are made much after the ancient pre­scription of Stevenson. The abundant displays of every kind of edible, in the London markets, on Christmas-eve, with a view to the twelve days' festival, of which it is the overture—the blaze of lights amid which they are exhibited, and the evergreen deco­rations by which they are embowered—together with the crowds of idlers or of purchasers that wander through these well-stored magazines—present a picture of abundance, and a congress of faces, well worthy of a single visit from the stranger, to whom a London market, on the eve of Christmas, is, as yet, a novelty.
The approach of Christmas-eve, in the metropolis, is marked by the Smithfield show of over-fed cattle ; by the enormous beasts and birds, for the fattening of which medals and cups and prizes have been awarded by committees of amateur graziers and feed­ers ;—in honor of which monstrosities, dinners have been eaten, toasts drunk, and speeches made. These prodigious specimens of corpulency we behold, after being thus glorified, led like victims of antiquity, decked with ribands and other tokens of triumph— or perhaps, instead of led, we should, as the animals are scarcely able to waddle, have used the word goaded—to be immolated at the altar of gluttony, in celebration of Christmas ! To admiring crowds, on the eve itself, are the results of oil-cake and turnip feeding displayed, in the various butchers' shops of the metropo­lis and its vicinity ; and the efficacy of walnut-cramming is illus­trated in Leadenhall market,—where Norfolk turkeys and Dork­ing fowls appear, in numbers and magnitude unrivalled. The average weight given for each turkey, by the statement hereto­fore quoted by us, of the number and gravity of those birds sent
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