Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/417

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367
Reviews.

From these old traditions it is a far cry to the third section, in which the modern Danish Yule, with all its attendant observances, general and local, is described in detail, while Norway and Sweden are similarly dealt with in the sections which follow. Here Dr. Feilberg has clearly taken great pains to make his presentation of the subject as complete as possible, and his lively descriptions succeed in bringing out very distinctly the prominent place which the Christmas season holds in the hearts of the whole community. Many curious details and variations of custom in the three Scandinavian countries are mentioned, the reasons for which leave much room for speculation: in many cases accident or local fancy may be the only reason after all. The whole material is so varied that any attempt at summarising it here would be useless, but all this part of the work might with advantage be translated into some language more commonly known than Danish.

The natural sequel to these three sections is the very popular one at the end of the volume, entitled "How Christmas is kept," and containing accounts from all corners of the world. It is an obvious defect in arrangement that this is separated from its fellows by an historical dissertation on the "Christian Yule." This ought rather to have followed immediately on the section which deals with the "Old Northern Yule." In that case the historic connexion, or rather the want of it, between the old and the new would have come more clearly before the reader.

While Dr. Feilberg's work bears evident traces of the difficulty of being at once scientific and popular, it is one from which there is much to be learned even by those who take up the subject of popular customs in its most serious aspect. Any demand for the ultimate evidence on which the statements are based is anticipated by the copious references to original authorities given at the end of the volume. A glance at these is sufficient proof of the wide reading and research which have gone to the making of an interesting book. Scandinavia has done marvels in the way of collecting its folk-lore, and it is well that it also has scholars capable of combining the scattered items in a work of this kind.

W. A. Craigie.