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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Righte Merrie Christmasse, by John Ashton This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: A Righte Merrie Christmasse The Story of Christ-Tide Author: John Ashton Illustrator: Arthur C. Behrend Release Date: November 30, 2006 [EBook #19979] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A RIGHTE MERRIE CHRISTMASSE *** Produced by Julie Barkley, Linda Cantoni, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net Contents A righte Merrie Christmasse!!! The Story of Christ-tide By John Ashton. Copperplate Etching of "The Wassail Song," by Arthur C. Behrend. London: published by the Leadenhall Press, Ltd., 50 Leadenhall Street; Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 153-157 Fifth Avenue. [1894] Transcriber's Note: This text contains passages using the Anglo-Saxon thorn (þ, equivalent of "th"), which should display properly in most browsers. This text also contains the Anglo-Saxon yogh (equivalent of "y," "g," or "gh"), which may not display properly in some browsers. A mouse-over pop-up transliteration has been provided for words containing a yogh, e.g., Ȝe. In addition, the text contains two instances of a single m with a macron over it, signifying a double m. This is represented here as "m[m]." TO THE READER I do not craue mo thankes to haue, than geuen to me all ready be; but this is all, to such as shall peruse this booke. That, for my sake, they gently take what ere they finde against their minde, when he, or she, shal minded be therein to looke. Tusser. PREFACE IT is with a view of preserving the memory of Christmas that I have written this book. In it the reader will find its History, Legends, Folk-lore, Customs, and Carols—in fact, an epitome of Old Christ-tide, forming a volume which, it is hoped, will be found full of interest. JOHN ASHTON. CONTENTS CHAPTER I Date of Christ's Birth discussed—Opinions of the Fathers—The Eastern Church and Christ-tide—Error in Chronology—Roman Saturnalia—Scandinavian Yule—Duration of Christ-tide 1 CHAPTER II Historic Christ-tides in 790, 878, and 1065—William I., 1066-1085—William II.—Henry I., 1127—Stephen —Henry II., 1158-1171—Richard I., 1190—John, 1200—Henry III., 1253—Edwards I., II., and III.—Richard II., 1377-1398—Henry IV.-V., 1418—Henry VIII., his magnificent Christ-tides 9 CHAPTER III Historic Christ-tides—Edward VI., 1551—Mary—Elizabeth—James I.—The Puritans—The Pilgrim Fathers —Christmas's Lamentation—Christ-tide in the Navy, 1625 19 CHAPTER IV Attempts of Puritans to put down Christ-tide—Attitude of the people—Preaching before Parliament—"The arraignment, etc., of Christmas" 26 CHAPTER V The popular love of Christmas—Riots at Ealing and Canterbury—Evelyn's Christmas days, 1652, '3, '4, '5, '7, Cromwell and Christ-tide—The Restoration—Pepys and Christmas day, 1662—"The Examination and Tryal of old Father Christmas" 34 CHAPTER VI Commencement of Christ-tide—"O Sapientia!"—St. Thomas's day—William the Conqueror and the City of York—Providing for Christmas fare—Charities of food—Bull-baiting—Christ-tide charities—Going "aThomassing," etc.—Superstitions of the day 45 CHAPTER VII Paddington Charity (Bread and Cheese Lands)—Barring-out at Schools—Interesting narrative 53 CHAPTER VIII The Bellman—Descriptions of him—His verses. The Waits—Their origin—Ned Ward on them—Corporation Waits—York Waits (17th century)—Essay on Waits—Westminster Waits—Modern Waits 63 CHAPTER IX Christ-tide Carols—The days of Yule—A Carol for Christ-tide—"Lullaby"—The Cherry-tree Carol—Dives and Lazarus 70 CHAPTER X Christmas Eve—Herrick thereon—The Yule Log—Folk-lore thereon—The Ashen Faggot—Christmas Candles—Christmas Eve in the Isle of Man—Hunting the Wren—Divination by Onions and Sage—A Custom at Aston—"The Mock"—Decorations and Kissing Bunch—"Black Ball"—Guisers and Waits—Ale Posset 75 CHAPTER XI Christmas Eve in North Notts—Wassailing the Fruit Trees—Wassail Songs—Wassailing in Sussex—Other Customs—King at Downside College—Christ-tide Carol—Midnight Mass—The Manger—St. Francis of Assisi 84 CHAPTER XII Decorating with Evergreens—Its Origin and Antiquity—Mistletoe in Churches—The permissible Evergreens —The Holly—"Holly and Ivy"—"Here comes Holly"—"Ivy, chief of Trees"—"The Contest of the Ivy and the Holly"—Holly Folk-lore—Church Decorations—To be kept up till Candlemas day 91 CHAPTER XIII Legends of the Nativity—The Angels—The Birth—The Cradles—The Ox and Ass—Legends of Animals —The Carol of St. Stephen—Christmas Wolves—Dancing for a Twelve-months—Underground Bells—The Fiddler and the Devil 97 CHAPTER XIV The Glastonbury Thorn, its Legend—Cuttings from it—Oaks coming into leaf on Christmas day—Folk-lore —Forecast, according to the days of the week on which Christmas falls—Other Folk-lore thereon 105 CHAPTER XV Withholding Light—"Wesley Bob"—Wassail Carol—Presents in Church—Morris Dancers—"First Foot" —Red-haired Men—Lamprey Pie—"Hodening"—Its Possible Origin—The "Mari Lhoyd" 111 CHAPTER XVI Curious Gambling Customs in Church—Boon granted—Sheaf of Corn for the Birds—Crowning of the Cock—"The Lord Mayor of Pennyless Cove"—"Letting in Yule"—Guisards—Christmas in the Highlands —Christmas in Shetland—Christmas in Ireland 117 CHAPTER XVII Ordinance against out-door Revelry—Marriage of a Lord of Misrule—Mummers and Mumming—Country Mummers—Early Play—Two modern Plays 125 CHAPTER XVIII A Christmas jest—Ben Jonson's Masque of Christmas—Milton's Masque of Comus—Queen Elizabeth and the Masters of Defence 138 CHAPTER XIX The Lord of Misrule—The "Emperor" and "King" at Oxford—Dignity of the Office—Its abolition in the City of London—The functions of a Lord of Misrule—Christmas at the Temple—A grand Christmas there 143 CHAPTER XX A riotous Lord of Misrule at the Temple—Stubbes on Lords of Misrule—The Bishops ditto—Mumming at Norwich 1440—Dancing at the Inns of Court—Dancing at Christmas—The Cushion Dance 155 CHAPTER XXI Honey Fairs—Card-playing at Christmas—Throwing the Hood—Early Religious Plays—Moralities—Story of a Gray's Inn Play—The first Pantomime—Spectacular drama—George Barnwell—Story respecting this Play 162 CHAPTER XXII Profusion of Food at Christ-tide—Old English Fare—Hospitality—Proclamations for People to spend Christtide at their Country Places—Roast Beef—Boar's Head—Boar's Head Carol—Custom at Queen's College, Oxon.—Brawn—Christmas Pie—Goose Pie—Plum Pudding—Plum Porridge—Anecdotes of Plum Pudding —Large one—Mince Pies—Hackin—Folk-lore—Gifts at Christ-tide—Yule Doughs—Cop-a-loaf—Snapdragon 169 CHAPTER XXIII The First Carol—Anglo-Norman Carol—Fifteenth-Century Carol—"The Twelve Good Joys of Mary"—Other Carols—"A Virgin most Pure"—Carol of Fifteenth Century—"A Christenmesse Carroll" 180 CHAPTER XXIV Christmas Gifts forbidden in the City of London—Charles II. and Christmas Gifts—Christmas Tree—Asiatic Descent—Scandinavian Descent—Candles on the Tree—Early Notices of in England—Santa Claus —Krishkinkle—Curious Tenures of Land at Christmas 186 CHAPTER XXV Christ-tide Literature—Christmas Cards—Their Origin—Lamplighter's Verses—Watchman's Verses —Christmas Pieces 194 CHAPTER XXVI Carol for St. Stephen's Day—Boxing Day—Origin of Custom—Early examples—The Box—Bleeding Horses —Festivity on this Day—Charity at Bampton—Hunting the Wren in Ireland—Song of the Wren Boys 201 CHAPTER XXVII St. John's Day—Legend of the Saint—Carols for the Day—Holy Innocents—Whipping Children—Boy Bishops—Ceremonies connected therewith—The King of Cockney's Unlucky Day—Anecdote thereon —Carol for the Day 207 CHAPTER XXVIII New Year's Eve—Wassail—New Year's Eve Customs—Hogmany—The Clāvie—Other Customs—Weather Prophecy 214 CHAPTER XXIX New Year's Day—Carol—New Year's Gifts—"Dipping"—Riding the "Stang"—Curious Tenures—God Cakes —The "Quaaltagh"—"First foot" in Scotland—Highland Customs—In Ireland—Weather Prophecies —Handsel Monday 220 CHAPTER XXX Eve of Twelfth Day—Thirteen Fires—Tossing the Cake—Wassailing Apple-Trees—The Eve in Ireland —Twelfth Day, or Epiphany—Carol for the Day—Royal Offerings 232 CHAPTER XXXI "The King of the Bean"—Customs on Twelfth Day—Twelfth Cakes—Twelfth Night Characters—Modern Twelfth Night—The Pastry Cook's Shops—Dethier's Lottery—The Song of the Wren—"Holly Night" at Brough—"Cutting off the Fiddler's Head" 238 CHAPTER XXXII St. Distaff's Day—Plough Monday—Customs on the Day—Feast of the Purification 246 CHAPTER I Date of Christ's Birth discussed—Opinions of the Fathers—The Eastern Church and Christ-tide—Error in Chronology—Roman Saturnalia—Scandinavian Yule—Duration of Christ-tide. THE day on which Jesus Christ died is plainly distinguishable, but the day of His birth is open to very much question, and, literally, is
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