BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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TWELFTH DAY AND NIGHT.                          213
as if a wolf was practising the rudiments of a shake. This he delights to do, more particularly, in a crowded thoroughfare,—as though determined that his noise should triumph over every other, and show how jolly he is, and how independent of the ties to good behavior. If the street is a quiet one, and he has a stick in his hand (perhaps a hoop-stick), he accompanies the howl with a run upon the gamut of the iron rails. He is the nightingale of mud and cold. If he gets on in life, he will be a pot-boy. At present, as we said before, we hardly know what he is; but his mother thinks herself lucky, if he is not transported."
Of Twelfth-night, at home,—when " the whole island keeps court,—nay all Christendom,"—when " all the world are kings and queens, and everybody is somebody else"—a huge cake, the idol of young hearts, is the presiding genius of the evening. The account given by Nutt, the editor of the " Cook and Confectioner's Dictionary," of the twelfth-cakes and dishes in vogue a hundred years ago, proves the nursery rhymes of—
" Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pye, (who)
When the pye was opened, all began to sing,"
to be no such nonsense as was generally supposed. He tells us of two great pies, made of coarse paste and bran,—into one of which, after it was baked, live frogs were introduced,— and into the other, live birds; which, upon some curious persons lifting up the covers, would jump and fly about the room, causing " a surprising and diverting hurly-burly among the guests." What feeble imitations are the castles, ships, and animals, that now adorn our Twelfth-night cakes, to the perform­ance of Nutt! How much, every way, inferior are the specimens of art produced, even by the renowned author of the " Italian Confectioner,"—the illustrious Jarrin ! On the battlements of the castles of former days were planted " kexes," or pop-guns, charged with gunpowder, to be fired upon a pastry ship, with " masts," ropes, we doubt not, of spun sugar, "sails, flags, and streamers." Nor was the naval power of England lost sight of; for the " kexes" of this delicious ship were, also, charged with gun­powder,—and when she was fired upon from the castle, her guns
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