BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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NEW-YEAR'S EVE.
193
tion, however, is not peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland ; but shared with the northern European nations in general,—most of whom assigned portentous qualities to the winds of New-year's-eve.
It is on this night, that those Scottish mummers, the Guisars,— to whom we have already, more than once, alluded,—still go about the streets,—habited in antic dresses, having their faces covered with vizards, and carrying cudgels in their hands. The doggrel lines repeated by these masquers,—as given by Mr. Callender, in a paper contributed by him to the Transactions of the Antiquarian Society of Scotland, are as follows :—
" Hogmanay. Trollolay, Gie me o' your white bread I'll hae nane o' your grey;"—
and much learning has been exhausted, and ingenuity exercised, in their explanation. The admirable paper of Mr. Repp, in the same Transactions (to which we have already alluded, and which we recommend to the notice of our antiquarian readers) connects them, as we have before hinted, with another superstition com­mon to many of the northern nations ;—and which may be com­pared with one of the articles of popular belief before described, as prevailing in England, on Christmas-eve,—that, viy., which seems to imply that the spirits of evil are, at this time, in peculiar activity, unless kept down by holier and more powerful influences. According to this able investigator, the moment of midnight on New Year's-eve was considered to be a general removing term for the races of Genii,—whether good or bad ;—and the two first lines of the cry in question,—which, as he explains them, after the Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic dialects, were words bf appeal to the good genii (the hoghmen or hillmen), and of execration against the evil ones (the trolles),—were so used, in consequence of such belief (that these different spirits were, at that hour, in motion), and of the further one that the words of men had power to deter­mine that motion to their own advantage. It is well known that, in some countries,—and we may mention Germany—great im­portance is attached to words involuntarily uttered, at certain 14
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