BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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68
THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
different,—a sort of meat in the drink—but innocent withal, and reminding you of the orchards. They mix their flavor with the beverage, and the beverage with them, giving a new meaning to the line of the poet;—
The gentler apple's winy juice;'
for both winy and gentler have they become, by this process. Our ancestors gave them the affectionate name of' lamb's wool;' for we cannot help thinking (in spite of what is intimated by one of our authorities), that this term applied more particularly to the apples, and not so much to the bowl altogether; though, if it did, it shows how indispensably necessary to it they were considered." With all deference to Mr. Leigh Hunt's pleasant and graceful trifling, lamb's wool was the title given to the composition itself —no doubt, on account of the delicate and harmonious qualities to which the apples contribute their share. Our readers will find an account of the alleged origin of this annual practice, in a curious description of an old wassail-bowl, carved upon the oaken beam that supported a chimney piece, in an old mansion in Kent —which description is copied by Hone, into his " Every Day Book," from the " Antiquarian Repertory." In the halls of our ancestors, this bowl was introduced with the inspiring cry of " wassail," three times repeated,—and immediately answered by a song from the chaplain. We hope our readers will sing to the wassail-bowl, this Christmas-tide.
We find that, in some parts of Ireland, and in Germany (and, probably, in districts of England, too), Christmas-eve is treated as a night of omens,—and that practices exist, for gathering its auguries, having a resemblance to those of our northern neighbors at Halloween. Many beautiful, and some solemn, superstitions belong to this night and the following morning. It is stated by Sir Walter Scott, in one of his notes to Marmion, to be an article of popular faith, " that they who are born on Christmas or Good Friday have the power of seeing spirits, and even of commanding them ;" and he adds, that " the Spaniards imputed the haggard and downcast looks of their Philip II., to the disagreeable visions to which this privilege subjected him."
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