************************No ceremonious feast was complete without the "stately pye" was made of peacocks or pheasants. To have roasted peacock was as imperative as roast turkey is imperative in our day. Some of the peacock "pyes" were huge affairs, and were served with the neck and head of the slaughtered bird thrust up above the pie, while the tail was spread out to to its full and gorgeous width. The Master of Revels was expected to keep his wits at work creating all sorts of diversions for the entire twelve days of the Christmas festival. One of the favorite games was that of snapdragon, when raisins were thrown into hot brandy and the revelers attempted to pluck them out. There would be a season of rest from so much active merriment, and then the guests would gather around the great, open fires and there would be a season of singing and story-telling, when happenings were chronicled equal to the wildest fairy tales ever put into print. Then, as now, there was a lavish use of evergreens for decoration, and the holly has for centuries been a favorite at Christmas time. The following story is extant regarding the reason why evergreens were so freely used as Christmas decorations:
The use of the mistletoe is of very ancient origin. The Romans held it in the highest veneration, and they made free use of it in their religious festivals. It was commonly supposed to be a protection against all evil spirits, and it was also supposed to have great medicinal power. No "green thing a-growing" had quite so much of a hold on the people as the mistletoe, and there are many legends associated with it.
There was at one time a belief that bread baked at Christmas time would remain good for ten years, and that it would cure certain deceases in cattle. In one part of Yorkshire it was customary to toll the bells at Christmas Eve in token that the devil died when Christ was born.
A very curious and absurd custom obtained in a part of France in the fourteenth century. It was called the Feast of Asses. In its observance the flight into Egypt was represented in the church. The handsomest young woman who could be found, rose into church with a babe in her arms. After entering the church, the girl and the ass were placed near the pulpit, and High Mass was celebrated. It ended with an imitation of the braying of the ass, the priest "hee-hawing" like an ass, and the people solemnly responding in the same ludicrous way.
We are indebted to the past for many of the good and pleasant Christmas customs of the present, and we believe that there is more of the real Christ spirit in the Christmas observances of today than there ever was in the centuries that are behind us.
p.s. The small dolls have been getting ready for Christmas, too~ Come have a peek!