BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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CHRISTMAS EVE.
171
that even the torpid bees are figured, in its superstitions, to utter a voice of gladness,—the music of sweet chimes to issue from the bosom of the earth,—and rich harmonies to echo and high cere­monies be gorgeously performed, amid the hush and mystery of buried cells.
We must not omit to mention, that these supposed natural tes­timonies to the triumph of the time have been, in some places, used as means of divination, on a very curious question. The change of style introduced into our calendars, nearly a century ago, and by which Christmas-day was displaced from its ancient position therein, gave great dissatisfaction, on many accounts,— and on none more than that of its interference with this ancient festival. The fifth and sixth of January continued, long, to be observed as the true anniversary of the Nativity, and its vigil;— and the kneeling of the cattle, the humming of the bees, and the ringing of subterranean bells, were anxiously watched, for authen­tications on this subject. The singular fact of the budding, about the period of old Christmas-day, of the Cadenham oak, in the New Forest of Hampshire,—and the same remarkable fea­ture of the Glastonbury thorn (explained in various ways, but, probably, nowhere more satisfactorily than in the number for the 31st December, 1833, of the Saturday Magazine),—were, of course, used, by the vulgar, as confirmations of their own tradi­tion ; and the putting forth of their leaves was earnestly waited for, as an unquestionable homage to the joyous spirit of the true period.
We have already alluded to the high ceremonies with which the great day is ushered in, amongst the Catholics, and to the beautiful music of the midnight mass :—
" That only night of all the year
Saw the stoled priest his chalice rear."
The reader who would have a very graphic and striking ac­count of the Christmas-eve mass, as performed by torchlight, amid the hills, in certain districts of Ireland, will find one in Mr. Carlton's " Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry."
We have also mentioned, that all the watches of this hallowed night shall ring to the sounds of earthly minstrelsy, imitating, as
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