25 December 2011

25 December - Christmas Lore

Weather: Weather today foretells the weather for January.

If the sun shines clear and bright on Christmas day, it promises a peaceful year, free from clamors and strife, and foretells a plentiful year.

If the sun shines through an apple tree on Christmas, there will be an abundant crop of apples in the coming year.

A green Christmas, a good harvest.
         On the other hand:
A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard.

So many hours of sun on Christmas Day,
So many frosts in the month of May.

A warm Christmas, a cold Easter; A green Christmas, a white Easter.
Christmas in mud, Easter in snow; Christmas in snow, Easter in mud.
[Doesn't look like Easter has a chance of being warm and sunny!]

If it rains on Christmas, there will be four weeks with no sun.

A windy Christmas is a sign of a good year to come.

If there is much wind on Christmas Day, trees will bear much fruit.

A windy Christmas and a calm Candlemas are signs of a good year.

If the wind grows stormy before sunset on Christmas, it betokens sickness in the coming spring and autumn. [Well, there’s an easy bet, whether it is stormy or not!]

If at Christmas, ice hangs on the willow, then clover may be cut at Easter [i.e. early Spring, and pasturage for the animals]

If it snows during Christmas night, the crops will do well.

If it snows on Christmas night, there will be a good crop of hops next year [and hops make beer, and beer makes the Widow’s heart merry.  This may be the only time I hope for snow.]

Light Christmas, light wheatsheaf;
Dark Christmas, heavy wheatsheaf.
A bright Christmas foretells that hens will lay well.
         On the other hand
A dark Christmas foretells that cows will give much milk.

[And this year it will be a dark Christmas, i.e. no moonlight]

When Christmas day cometh while the moon waxeth, it shall be a very good year, and the nearer it cometh to the full moon, the better shall that year be.  If it cometh when the moon decreaseth, it shall be a hard year, and the nearer to the latter end, the worse and harder shall the year be.  [The moon will just be starting to wax again on Christmas.  Does this mean the year won’t be as bad as it could be?]

If Christmas Day on a Sunday fall, a troublous winter we shall have all.

When Christmas day falls on a Sunday, the year will be unfruitful.

When Christmas is on a Sunday, the winter will be good, but with great winds; the summer will be fair and dry; the world will be at peace.

Lordlings, all of you I warn,
If the day that Christ was born
Fall upon a Sunday,
The winter shall be good I say,
But great winds aloft shall be;
The summer shall be fair and dry.
Be kind skill and without loss,
Through all lands there shall be peace,
Good time for all things to be done,
But he that stealeth shall be found soon;
What child that day born may be,
A great lord he shall live to be.

On Christmas day, place twelve onions in a row, each with a pinch of salt on the top, The first onion on the left represents January, the next February, and so on.
On Epiphany, check the onions.  If the salt has melted on any one of them, the corresponding month will be wet; where the salt remains, that month will be dry.

The following good old English Christmas Carol is preserved in Poor Robin's Almanack, for 1695.
(Note: the author is not referring to those unfortunates who have no victuals for their Christmas tables, but those those miserly, Scrooge-like types who not only refuse to keep a good table, but also are stingy when it comes to sharing Christmas cheer with their neighbors.)

"Now thrice-welcome, Christmas, which brings us good cheer,
Minced pies and plum-porridge, good ale and strong beer;
With pig, goose, and capon, the best that may be,
So well doth the weather and our stomachs agree.
Observe how the chimneys do smoke all about,
The cooks are providing for dinner no doubt!

But those on whose tables no victuals appear,
O may they keep Lent all the rest of the year!

With holly and ivy so green and so gay;
We deck up our houses as fresh as the day
With bays and rosemary, and laurel complete,
And every one now is a king in conceit.

But as for curmudgeons, who will not be free,
I wish they may die on the three-legged tree!"

[and so say all of us...]
For good luck in the coming year, give your animals a double portion of food on Christmas Day.

Many, many moons ago, I found an article titled "Christmas Lore and Legend Around the World".  No idea out of what magazine I tore the page 40 years ago (has it been that long?), but it is still in my Christmas binder, and herewith I post the contents which pertain to Christmas: 

Through the centuries, wherever Christmas is celebrated, each country has inherited its own ancient customs and beliefs - their origins lost in history, but fascinating and often charming to look back on today.  How many of these do you recognize and remember?

* IN SCANDINAVIA, families place all their shoes together on Christmas Day, to insure that they live in harmony throughout the New Year.

* IN DENMARK, some of the bread baked at Christmas is saved until sowing time, then crumbled and mixed with the seed to insure an abundant harvest.

* IN MANY PARTS OF ENGLAND, it is said that bread baked on Christmas Day will never get moldy.  Elsewhere, it is believed that ashes must never be thrown out on Christmas Day for fear they will be thrown in the Savior's face.  Never give fire, matches or light to be taken from the house on Christmas, or trouble will surely follow.  No gift of leather at Christmas will be durable, and wearing new shoes on Christmas brings bad luck.  The young girl who prays to St. Thomas on Christmas Eve with a sprig of holly under her pillow soon finds her true love [beats sleeping with an onion under your pillow on St. Thomas Eve].

* IN THE ANCIENT DUCHY OF SWABIA, girls went to the woodpile on Christmas Eve to draw sticks.  If a girl drew a long one, her future husband would be tall; if a thick one, stout; if a crooked one, he would be deformed.  Hot lead dropped into cold water foretold his occupation; the resulting shape resembled the tools of his trade, as a hammer shape would signify a carpenter and a shoe shape, a cobbler.  Girls formed a circle and let loose a blindfolded goose among them; the girl to whom it went first would be the first bride [have you ever tried to blindfold a goose?  They bite, you know, and I don't think any self-respecting honker is going to be blindfolded without a fight.  And then she's going to be pretty darn mad.  That is one brave circle of girls!].

IN IRELAND, it is believed that the gates of Paradise are always open on Christmas Eve, and no one dying then need enter Purgatory.  An Irish maiden may find her true love by taking four onions on Christmas Day, naming each after a man she knows and placing one in each corner of the room.  The one that first throws a shoot will be named for her future husband.  Never launder a Christmas present before giving it, as this washes out all the good luck.

* IN SPAIN, cows must be treated with special kindness on Christmas because cattle breathed upon the Christ Child and kept him warm.  A washcloth used on Christmas Day to groom the horses will make them grow fat.

* IN ARMENIA, seven is a lucky number for the holiday feast.  Seven kinds of fruit are served, seven kinds of nuts, seven dishes, and water brought at dawn from seven different fountains.

* IN THE NETHERLANDS, it is thought that nothing sown on Christmas Eve will perish, even though the seed be sown in the snow.  Eating a raw egg on Christmas morning gives strength to carry the heaviest weights.  To pick apples or nuts from the ground on Christmas will bring sores. 

* IN BOHEMIA, if a wife burns a Christmas cake, she believes she will die within a year.

* IN SWITZERLAND, for a girl to accept a sprig of edelweiss on Christmas is to accept the man who proffers it.

* AND EVERYWHERE, to be filled with age-old spirit of Christmas is to bring happiness and joy to those around us, and the eternal hope of Peace on Earth, good will to men.