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 DAY.                                     207
sovereign of another character; and in Elizabeth's day, it was an affair of no trifling expense to maintain ground as a courtier. The lists of the kind of gifts which she exacted from all who approached her (for the necessity of giving—the consequences of not giving—amounted to an exaction), and the accounts of the childish eagerness with which she turned over the wardrobe finery, furnished in great abundance—as the sort of gift most suited to her capacity of appreciation—furnish admirable illus­trations of her mind. She is said to have taken good care that her returns should leave a very substantial balance in her own favor. The practice is said to have been extinguished in the reign of George III.
A worse custom still, however, was that of presenting gifts to the Chancellor, by suitors in his court,—for the purpose of in­fluencing his judgments. The abuses of the new-year's-gift practice, have, however, been cleared away;—and have left it what it now is,—a beautiful form for the interchange of affection, and the expression of friendship.
In Paris—where this day is called the Jour d'etrennes,—the practice is of still more universal observance than with us: and the streets are brilliant with the displays, made in every window, of the articles which are to furnish these tokens of kindness,— and with the gay equipages, and well-dressed pedestrians, passing in all directions, to be the bearers of them, and offer the compli­ments which are appropriate to the season. The thousand bells of the city are pealing from its hundred belfries—filling the air with an indescribable sense of festival,—and would alone set the whole capital in motion, if they were a people that ever sat still. This singing of a thousand bells is likewise a striking feature of the day, in London : —and no one, who has not heard the min­gling voices of these high choristers, in a metropolis, can form any notion of the wild and stirring effects produced by the racing and crossing, and mingling of their myriad notes. It is as if the glad voices of the earth had a chorus of echoes, in the sky ;—as if the spirit of its rejoicing were caught up by " airy tongues,"—and flung, in a cloud of incense-like music, to the gates of heaven.
We need scarcely mention that most of the other forms in which the mirth of the season exhibits itself, are in demand on this oc-
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