BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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ST. DISTAFF'S DAY.
219
the supremacy of the spirit of fun over his laborious rival, for this one day more—and a challenge into his court:—and this 'challenge was answered by the maidens, and the mischief re­torted, by sluicing the clowns with pails of water. It was, in fact, a merry contest between these two elements, of water and of fire ;—and may be looked upon as typical of that more mat­ter-of-fact extinction, which was about to be finally given to the lights of the season, when the sports of this day should be con­cluded. Herrick's poem, on the subject—which we must quote from the " Hesperides,"—includes all that is known of the an­cient observances of St. Distaff's day.—
" Partly work and partly play, You must on S. Distaff's day; From the plough soone free your teame, Then come home and fother#them, If the maides a spinning goe, Burne the flax, and fire the tow ;
*           *           *           *
Bring in pailes of water then,
Let the maides bewash the men:—
Give S. Distaffe all the right,
Then bid Christmas sport good-night:
And next morrow, every one
To his own vocation."
Our Revels now are ended;—and our Christmas prince must abdicate. In flinging down his wand of misrule, we trust there is no reason why he should—like Prospero, when his charms were over, and he broke his staff—drown this, his book, "deeper than did ever plummet sound." The spells which it contains are, we believe, all innocent;—and we trust it may sur­vive, to furnish the directions for many a future scheme of Christ­mas happiness.
And now Father Christmas has, at length, departed ;—but not till the youngsters had got from the merry old man his last bon­bon. The school-boy, too, has clung to the skirts of the patri­arch's coat, and followed him as far as he could. And farther
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