CHRISTMAS EVE. 165
Around this fire, when duly lighted, the hospitalities of the evening were dispensed ; and, as the flames played about it and above it, with a pleasant song of their own, the song and the tale and the jest went cheerily round. In different districts, different omens attached themselves to circumstances connected with this observance ;—but generally it was deemed an evil one, if the log went out during the night—or, we suppose, during the symposium. The extinguished brand was, of course, to be preserved, to furnish its ministry to the ceremonial of the ensuing year.
The Yule Clog is still lighted up, on Christmas-eve, in various parts of England—and particularly in the north. In some places, where a block of sufficient dimensions is not readily come by, it is usual to lay aside a large coal for the purpose,—which, if not quite orthodox, is an exceedingly good succedaneum, and a very rich source of cheerful inspirations.
Another feature of this evening, in the houses of the more wealthy, was the tall Christmas candles, with their wreaths of evergreens, which were lighted up, along with the Yule log, and placed on the upper table, or dais, of ancient days. Those of our readers who desire to light the Christmas candles, this year, may place them on the gideboard, or in any conspicuous situation. Brand, however, considers the Yule log and the Christmas candle to be but one observance—and that the former is only a substitute for the latter. By our ancestors, of the Latin church, Christmas was formerly called the " Feast of Lights "—and numbers of lights were displayed on the occasion. The lights and the title were, both, typical of the religious light dawning upon the world at that sacred period—of the advent, in fact, of the " Light of lights "—and the conquest over moral darkness. Hence, it is thought, the domestic ceremony of the Christmas candle,—and that the Yule block was but another form of the same —the poor man's Christmas candle.
Occasionally, the Catholics appear to have made these Christmas candles (as also the candles exhibited by them, on other occasions of the commemorations connected with their religion) in a triangular form, as typical of the Trinity. Mr. Hone, in his volume on the subject of " Ancient Mysteries," gives a representation of one of these candles ;—and Mr. Crofton Croker, in a