454 The Book of Indoor and Outdoor Games
dinner was served at mid-day—the master, with his family and friends, sitting at a table apart. It was now that the mirth and merriment culminated. As some one has said, "Man's gastronomic capacity must have been enlarged for the occasion, as energies expand to meet great emergencies." We read of sixteen courses of meat alone—boar's head, capons, geese, turkeys, peacocks (in all the bravery of their gorgeous plumage), brawn, neats-tongue, etc., concluding with mince pies and plum pudding. It certainly stimulates the appetite only to read of such' plenty.
The boar's head, wreathed with bays and served on a silver salver, was the most distinguished of Christmas dishes. Its appropriateness was due to the fact that Jews could not eat it. It was brought to the table in great state, accompanied with minstrelsy. The minstrels continued to play for the dancing that followed, while bagpipes furnished the music for the humbler folk.
Sports of many kinds were succeeded by a general assembling in the evening about the Yule fire, where songs, legendary tales and ghost stories went the rounds.
The hall was lighted only with the blaze of the Yule fire and the huge Christmas candles, wreathed with greenery. These last were types of "The Light of the World," whose coming to dispel moral darkness was the reason for the celebration.
The host mixed the "wassail bowl" with his own hands, and all partook of it, after which it was the custom for every one to join in singing carols, of which the example was the choir of angels heralding the birth of the Redeemer.
An entertainment that shows the rudeness of the times of Elizabeth was a fox-hunt indoors. "A hunts-