Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chirstmas Days of Long Ago, Part I

Dear Friends,

Firstly, welcome to any new friends that may be visiting today~ We hope you enjoy you are blessed by what you see!

Do you like the name of our new home? We couldn't decide what to call it for quite a while, but after waking up to the song of the many birds that surround us each day, we decided that "Birdsong Cottage" would be a lovely tribute to our feathered friends. You would not believe how many robins we have seen here! They feed in flocks of hundreds of birds, on the berries in the woods behind our home, and in our yard as they search under the leaves for any insects they may find.
How many birds can you see in this picture
(click to enlarge)?

I'd like to share an article from the "Mother's Magazine", December 1908. It is called "The Christmas Days of Long Ago", by Manton Marlowe. As it is rather long, I will probably break it up in parts.

"Superstitions and legends regarding Christmas are of ancient origin, and it would be useless to try to create disbelief in them among the people of some lands. Our own harmless and ancient story about Santa Claus being a personage as real as he is jolly, and that he and his reindeer are abroad on each succeeding Christmas Eve, has been condemned in recent years by those who believe that falsehood is never excusable, and that it is wrong to create a belief in this kind of a Santa Claus in the minds of children. others are of the opinion that it is a harmless bit of fiction in which children take the keen delight that we who are no longer children took it in the days of our childhood. 

It would not be so easy to trace that exact origin of the story of Santa Claus and his reindeer, as it is to trace the origin of even more remote legends associated with Christmas. In some  lands it is believed that that cocks crow all night long the night before Christmas. This story is said to have its origin on the crowing of the cock in the early dawn of the morning when Peter denied his Lord. It is said that the crowing of the cock was a sign that gracious influences prevailed with which the bird was in full sympathy. One writer, referring to this, says:

" It was indeed a 'gracious time',and as we read of the levels and ceremonies and foolish beliefs of Christmas Past, we might regret what we have lost in this tamer and less picturesque age, if if we did not know that never before in history was Christmas kept so truly and heartily in the spirit of the day as it is now. We have dropped a good many rude and some pretty customs, but we have gained the broadening of spirit of almost universal charity, a feeling of real brotherhood, that is perhaps none the less real because it held in check a good deal during the rest of the year."

In the days of old, the Christmas season began properly on the 16th of December, and ended Twelfth-night in January. In the early centuries, all of them time between the dates named was given up to revelries in which there was so much feasting that indigestion must have won many victories and the doctors must have had a busy time of it. The revels were, many of them, far more hilarious than they were dignified, and they would hardly harmonize with our present-day ideas of propriety.  

In the early days Christmas was a time when all caste limits were torn down and the people met on a common level of good-fellowship, with no end of cheer and unbounded hospitality. the Lord of the manor always opened his doors to all of his tenants and neighbors early on Christmas morning, and we are told that, during the festival days, the tables were spread continuously, and they who would, might regale themselves at any time. No dish was more to the popular taste than brawn. And what was brawn? It was a toothsome dish composed of the flesh of wild boars. These repulsive-looking creatures were captured some weeks before Christmas and were fattened for the Christmas feast. While the fattening process was going on, the boars wore a wide strap across the body, as it was thought that this had a tendency to make the flesh especially brawny. The meat was sent to the market  in long rolls nicely packed in wicker baskets. The head of the boar was a prominent dish at the Christmas feast. It has often been pictures on a great platter which was decorated with Christmas greens, and the platter was carried into the dining-hall with a great deal of ceremony. There was always a Master of Revels, who led the procession when the boar's head was carried into the hall, and there was a great deal of both vocal and instrumental music. One of the stanzas often sung when the boar's head was being carried into the hall, was the following: 

'Then set down the swine-yard,
The foe foe to the vineyard,
Let Bacchus crowne his fall;
Let this boar's head and mustard
Stand for pig, goose and custard,
And so you are welcome all.'     

Until Next time,




  1. Marqueta,
    I love that ~ "Love Notes from Birdsong Cottage" it's just perfect!! We rarely see Robins down here ~ I guess we are too far south. Lots of finches and chickadees (my favorites) though !

    After reading this story it makes me want to be a vegetarian!!

    I hope you and your lovely family are enjoying this most blessed time of year!!
    Love and hugs))

  2. Marqueta,

    Lovely name. We have birds all over the back porch at our feeders, I love seeing them hoping around.


  3. Oh yum, let us all eat a big platter of brawn....naw! I always wondered about that pigs head with an apple in it's mouth in 16th century paintings, how interesting.
    Birdsong Cottage, how lovely! I couldn't count the robins, as I am on a small screen computer today, but how nice to have them around at this time of year. However, you best watch out when Spring arrives, then there will be thousands!

  4. It truly is a lovely name my friend! I am glad that you are surrounded by so much beauty :)

    Te deseo unas Felizes Navidades :)


  5. I counted 26 birds (which would be "t" or "1¯6" in duotrigesimal, or base thirty-two, as I use it). I love the new look and title of your blog.

  6. Love what you have named your little cottage...I pray many blessings abide there through Christmas and always....Merry Christmas to you and yours....Shelley

  7. Wonderful Name!! sounds like a wonderful place to live as well!~ Enjoy you new home and may it be filled with many Great Adventures~ Love Heather :)

  8. Marqueta~Love Notes from a Birdsong Cottage is beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing this. I wanted to stop by to with you and your family a very Merry Christmas~Love and Hugs, Rose

  9. IT's sooo lovely!


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