468 The Book of Indoor and Outdoor Games
city folk have, and it is becoming more and more the pleasant custom for those who have country houses to open them for a few days at the holiday season and take possession with a merry party of friends. In their entertainment they follow as many as possible of the hearty old Christmas customs that helped to give to the "tight little Mother Isle " the name of "Merrie England."
By concerted prearrangement, other house-parties are given at the houses of neighbours, and other friends are encouraged to "stop over Christmas," at an inn, perhaps, by the promise of a share in all the fun.
Such joyous revels lay up happy memories. The main requirements are hearts warm with the genial, generous spirit of Christmas, the right companions, and an open fire.
There are many accessories, however, that add much to the pleasure of the Yule-tide, and to "keep alive the flavour of the honest days of yore" and avail ourselves of its traditional observances seems almost as much a duty as a privilege.
The rooms, of course, should be generously adorned with "pine, laurel, bay, box, and holly," for their pungent, spicy odours belong to Christmas-time as the breath of violets and the smell of young leaves do to the spring.
A review of ancient customs—our heritage of fun and frolic from the ages—gives suggestions for our own merry-makings.
Christmas eve, the holy day itself, and the evening of Christmas—to each belong its own peculiar forms of interest, amusement, and "merrie disport."
The bringing in of the Yule-log was the chief ceremony in the days of our English forebears on Christmas eve.