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Christmas Folk

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It's been said that introverts have a rich inner life. I very much agree.  A good book or a good song can almost put me into a trance.  Christmas Folk by Natalia Belting is such a book.  It's written in the same style as Summer's Coming In, and Barbara Cooney is also the illustrator.  Following the saints' days leading up to Christmas the the twelve days after, it creates a festival that makes me wish I could go back in time.  If you've seen Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas, then some of these customs are familiar.

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The hallow days of Yule are here.
The nights are long and dark.
A feeble sun scarce warms the day,
And cold congeals the stoutest heart.
The hallow days of Yule are come,
And now the Christmas folk bestir. . .


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The celebrations begin with St. Andrew's day, when it's time to make the Christmas pudding.

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St. Barbara's Day brings fireworks.

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And the boys lock out the teacher on St. Nicholas Day.

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There are mummers throughout the book: a string of costumed folks, Hobby the Horse, Snap the Dragon, and the Christmas Bull.

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Tulya's E'en brings all sorts of mischief and superstition.

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St. Thomas's Eve was the time to divine images of your true love. This practice came here, along with many others from far off times, and are discussed in Christmas in the Mountains: Southwest Christmas Customs and their Origins.

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Christmas Eve found the Christmas Folk all over town, bringing the news that Christmas was coming in.  In our area, many people stayed up most of the night on Christmas Eve, serenading their neighbors and trying to catch a glimpse of the animals speaking and kneeling.

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The Christmas Bull came in to wake people up, which sounds both terrifying and funny to me.  I don't know much about this tradition at all.

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Now the feasting began!  A Tudor Feast at Christmas details some of the dishes served to nobility at that time, including the peacock pie.

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St. George slayes the dragon in the traditional mummers' play.  John Langstaff wrote a book for making one's own play.  It certainly looks quite different from the Christmas plays we are accustomed to today.

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Twelfth Night was the time to wassail the apple trees and livestock.

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And there was the cake which helped pronounce the king and queen of the revels.

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Yule's come and Yule's gane
And all have feasted weel,
So Jock takes up his flail again,
And Jenny spins her wheel.

Comments

( 8 trees — Plant a Forest )
blakdove
Dec. 23rd, 2016 02:03 pm (UTC)
What a gorgeous book! I never knew most of these traditions. Very cool.
impossibleway
Dec. 24th, 2016 01:10 pm (UTC)
It is. I want to walk into the pages.
bugorama
Dec. 23rd, 2016 09:36 pm (UTC)
I love everything Barbara Cooney! I need to get this one from the library!
impossibleway
Dec. 24th, 2016 01:08 pm (UTC)
Me, too. I wish you luck--this was hard for me to find.
(Deleted comment)
impossibleway
Dec. 24th, 2016 01:09 pm (UTC)
I love learning about the history of Christmas. :-)
elberethmyrrh
Dec. 24th, 2016 06:38 am (UTC)

Very sweet! My curiosity was piqued and I had to look up Tulya's E'en as I'd never heard of it before. Kind of like Hallowe'en, it seems, but in December.

impossibleway
Dec. 24th, 2016 01:10 pm (UTC)
I had to look it up, too. It sounds very intriguing. My great grandmother had many superstitions, like a window into the past.
( 8 trees — Plant a Forest )

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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© impossibleway

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