BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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166
THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
letter to us, speaking of the huge dip candles called Christmas candles, exhibited, at this season, in the chandlers' shops in Ire­land, and presented by them to their customers, says, " It was the custom, I have been told (for the mystery of such matters was confined to the kitchen), to burn the three branches dowu to the point in which they united,—and the remainder was reserved to ' see in,' as it was termed, the new year by." " There is," says Mr. Croker, " always considerable ceremony observed, in lighting these great candles, on Christmas eve. It is thought unlucky to snuff one ; and certain auguries are drawn from the manner and duration of their burning."
The customs peculiar to Christmas-eve are numerous,—and various in different parts of the British isles ;—the prculiarities, in most cases, arising from local circumstances or traditions, and determining the particular forms of a celebration which is univer­sal. To enter upon anything, like an enumeration of these, it would be necessary to allow ourselves another volume. We must, therefore, confine ourselves to the general observances By which the Christmas spirit works; and each of our readers will have no difficulty in connecting the several local customs which come under his own notice with the particular feature of common celebration to which they belong.
But-all men in all places, who would keep Christmas-eve as Christmas-eve should be kept, must set the wassail-bowl a-flowing for the occasion. " Fill me a mighty bowl !" says Herrick, " up to the brim !"—and though this fountain of" quips, and cranks, and wreathed smiles," belongs, in an especial sense, to Twelfth-night (Twelfth-night not being Twelfth-night, without it), yet it should be compounded for every one of the festival nights, and invoked to spread its inspirations over the entire season.
" Honor to you who sit Near to the well of wit, And drink your fill of it!"—
again says our friend Herrick (what could we do without him, in this Christmas book of ours ?)—And surely, judging by such effects as we have witnessed, Herrick must have meant the was­sail-bowl. We are perfectly aware that there are certain other
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