BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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206                            THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
NEW YEAR'S DAT.
1st january.
The first of January, forming the accomplishment of the eight days after the birth of Christ, has been sometimes called the octave of Christmas;—and is celebrated in our church services, as the day of the Circumcision.
Of this day we have little left to say ;—almost all that belongs to it having been, of necessity, anticipated, in the progress*of those remarks which have brought us up to it. It is a day of universal congratulation ; and one on which, so far as we may judge from external signs, a general expansion of the heart takes place. Even they who have no hearts to open—or hearts which are not opened by such ordinary occasions—adopt the phraseology of those whom all genial hints call into sympathy with their fel­low-creatures : and the gracious compliments of the season may be heard falling from lips on which they must surely wither, in the very act of passing.
Of new year's gifts—which are the distinguishing feature of this day—we have already said enough, in pointing out the dis­tinction betwixt them and Christmas-boxes. They still pass generally from friend to friend, and between the different mem-bers of a family; and are, in such cases, very pleasant remem­brancers :—but the practice, in ancient times, had some very objectionable features. It was formerly customary for the nobles, and those about the court, to make presents, on this day, to the sovereign ;—who, if he were a prince with anything like a princely mind, took care that the returns which he made, in kind, should at reast balance the cost to the subject. The custom, how­ever, became a serious tax when the nobles had to do with a
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