Page:Our American Holidays - Christmas.djvu/25

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INTRODUCTION xi

his head back for dinner. The mince pie, sacred to the occasion, is supposed to commemorate in its mixture of oriental ingredients the offerings made by the wise men of the East. As for turkey and plum pudding, they have a deep significance, but it is clearer to the palate than to the brain.

Elise Traut relates the legend that on every Christmas eve the little Christ-child wanders all over the world bearing on its shoulders a bundle of evergreens. Through city streets and country lanes, up and down hill, to proudest castle and lowliest hovel, through cold and storm and sleet and ice, this holy child travels, to be welcomed or rejected at the doors at which he pleads for succor. Those who would invite him and long for his coming set a lighted candle in the window to guide him on his way hither. They also believe that he comes to them in the guise of any alms-craving, wandering person who knocks humbly at their doors for sustenance, thus testing their benevolence. In many places the aid rendered the beggar is looked upon as hospitality shown to Christ.

This legend embodies the true Christmas spirit which realizes, with a rush of love to the heart, the divinity in every one of "the least of these" our brethren. Selfishness is rebuked, the feeling of universal brotherhood is fostered, while the length of this holiday season by en-