192 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
This is the last day of the year; and the feelings which belong to it are of a tangled yarn. Regrets for the past are mingled with hopes of the future ;—and the heart of man, between the meeting years, stands, like the head of Janils, looking two ways.
The day and eve which precede the new year are marked, in England, by few outward observances, save such as are common to the season; and it is in the peculiar trains of thought to which they give rise that they have a character of their own.
In Scotland, on the other hand, the festival of this season is, since the Reformation, nearly limited to these two days; and the last day of the year is distinguished both by omens and by customs peculiar to itself. In Mr. Stewart's " Popular Superstitions of the Highlands," there is an account of some of these omens,—as they were gathered, at no distant period, in that land of mist and mystery ; and a singular example may be mentioned, in the auguries drawn from what was called the Candlemas Bull. The term Candlemas, which has been given to this season, in Scotland and elsewhere, is supposed to have had its origin in some old religious ceremonies which were performed by candle light;—and the bull was a passing cloud, which, in the Highland imagination, assumed the form of that animal,—and from whose rise or fall, or motions generally, on this night, the seer prognosticated good or bad weather. Something of the same kind is mentioned in Sir John Sinclair's " Statistical Account of Scotland,"—who explains more particularly the auguries gathered from the state of the atmosphere, on New-year's-eve. The superstition in ques-