Christmas in Olden Time
By Sir Walter Scott
As published in Good Housekeeping, December 8, 1888, p. 98.
Heap on more wood, the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will;
We'll keep our Christmas merry still.
And well our Christian sires of old
Loved, when the year its course had rolled,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all its hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honor to the holy night.
On Christmas Eve the bells were rung,
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung;
That only night in all the year
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dressed with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry men go
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then opened wide the baron's hall
To vassal, tenant, serf and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doffed his pride;
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The lord underogating share
The vulgar game of "post and pair,"
All hail with uncontrolled delight
And general voice the happy night
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.
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Tales of Chetzemoka