Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/217

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167
CELEBRATION OF THE CALENDAR

decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green. The conduits and the standards in the streets were likewise garnished. Amongst which I read, that in the year 1444, by tempest of thunder and lightning, on the first of February at night, Paul's steeple was fired, but with great labour quenched, and towards the morning of Candlemas day, at the Leadenhall in Cornhill, a standard of tree, being set up in the pavement fast in the ground, nailed full of holm and ivy, for disport of Christmas to the people, etc."

On Christmas Eve the people were wont to light candles, called Christmas candles, of prodigious size, and to stir the fire till it burned with uncommon brightness. In the midst of this extra illumination the yule-log was brought in. It was the special duty of the household carpenter to provide the Christmas block which was the massive root or trunk of a tree capable of remaining a part of the fire for a number of days. It was brought into the centre of the hall on Christmas eve amid great rejoicing, and, while still there, each member of the household would come forward, seat himself or herself upon it and sing a Yule-song and drink to a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. It was then rolled amid a great tumult to the fire-place and, when properly