Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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with the animals, birds, metals, earth, fire, water, reptiles, diseases, and poison, not to do him any hurt, neglected to take any oath from the misletoe, as it appeared too young and feeble to injure him. When the gods in their great assembly amused themselves therefore by throwing darts and other missiles at him, which all fell harmless, Loke, moved with envy, joined them in the shape of an old woman, and persuaded Hoder, who was blind, to throw a branch of misletoe, guiding his hand for the purpose, when Balder fell dead, pierced through and through.
The Druids used to collect the misletoe on the approach of the new year, with many mysterious ceremonies, such as cutting it with a golden sickle, and receiving it in a white cloth, the officiating Druids being also clad in white. This tended to increase the superstitious feeling of the people towards it, already aroused probably by the sin­gular manner of its growth. As late as the 17th century peculiar efficacy was attached to it. Coles, in his " Art of Simpling" (1656, p. 67,) observes that " If one hang misletoe about the neck, the witches can have no power of him." Some lingering super­stition remains to the present day, and in many houses a bunch of misletoe is suspended from the ceiling, under which the male part of the assembly have the privilege of taking the females and sa­luting them, at the same time they should wish them a happy new year, and present them with one of the berries for good luck. In other places people try lots by the crackling of the leaves and berries in the fire.
Mumming and theatrical representations at this season have been already mentioned ; but as some­thing of the same description still exists in parts of the kingdom, chiefly towards the Northern and

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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III