136 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
In this same county, St. Thomas's Day is likewise known by the name of" Doleing Day," on account of the distribution of the bounty of different charitable individuals. This word " dole" is explained, by Nares, to mean, " a share or lot in anything distributed," and to come from the verb to deal. He quotes Shak-speare for this also :—
" It was your presurmise That in the dole of blows your son might drop."
The musical procession, known in the Isle of Thanet, and other parts of the same county, by the name of " hodening" (supposed by some to be an ancient relic of a festival ordained to commemorate the landing of our Saxon ancestors, in that island,—and which, in its form, is neither more nor less than a modification of the old practice of the " hobby horse"), is, to this day, another of the customs of this particular period.
A custom analogous to these is still to be traced in Warwickshire ;—throughout which county it seems to have been the practice of the poor to go from door to door of every house, " with a bag, to beg corn of the farmers, which they call going a corning." And in Herefordshire, a similar custom exists,—where this day is calle'd " Mumping Day,"—that is, begging day.
To the same spirit we owe the Hagmeria, or Hogmanav practice, still in use in Scotland—as well as that of the Wren Boys, in Ireland (both of which will be described hereafter), although their observance belongs to later days of the season,—and probably many others which will variously suggest themselves to our various readers, as existing in their several neighborhoods.
In the great metropolis of England,—where poverty and wretchedness exist in masses upon which private benevolence cannot efficiently act, and where imposture assumes their forms in a degree that baffles the charity of individuals,—the bequests of our ancestors have been, to a great extent, placed, for distribution, in the hands of the various parish authorities. St. Thomas's day, in London, therefore, is connected with these charities, by its being that on which some of the most important parochial proceedings take place ; and amongst these, are the wardmotes held on this day, for the election, by the freemen inhabitant householders, of