twenty-fifth of December. Some of the apostles were then living and, doubtless, could have furnished the exact date.
The festivals of ancient superstitions had been marked by bloody sacrifices, riotous revellings, and disgraceful practices. They had no conception of a festival of cheerfulness, decency, and kindness.
The Christmas feast was the consecration of gladness, giving glory to God, showing good-will to man.
When Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine to convert the Saxons, he directed him to accommodate the ceremonies of Christian worship to those of the heathen, that they might not be too much startled at the change.
They were encouraged to eat the flesh of the sheep and oxen with thanksgiving, omitting their offering to their idols. At the Yuletide, their custom of decorating the places where they assembled for worship with evergreens was authorised, but connected with Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when boughs of trees were used in token of rejoicing.
The mistletoe, sacred to their Scandinavian god, Balder, was accepted as a symbol of the Trinity—the berries growing in clusters of three.
The festival gradually assumed a more civilised character. The Christmas fire was still made of the famous Yule-log—which was frequently the root of a large tree, introduced into the house with much ceremony and left in "ponderous majesty" on the kitchen floor, until each had sung his Yule or Christmas carol, standing on its centre.
The word "carol" comes from "cantare," to sing, and "rola," an interjection of joy.
It was the custom among the young folk to throw branches and sprigs of laurel on the Christmas fire and