Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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The various customs to commemorate the return of the seasons, appear also to have been similar to a great extent throughout the world, though to these would occasionally be superadded festivals arising from local circumstances. These commemorations were held as religious festivals, and so deep rooted had become the attachment of the Heathens to them, that some of the early Christians, instead of endeavouring to abolish, made them subservient to Christianity, first modifying and cleansing them from their grosser ceremonies, a practice, however, reprobated by the Apostles. Gregory Thauma-turgus, bishop of Neocsesarea, who died in 265, instituted annual festivals to the saints and martyrs, which succeeded those of the Heathens, in order to facilitate their conversion; and the keeping of Christmas with joy and feasting, playing and sports, replaced the Bacchanalia and Saturnalia. Papal Rome preserved many relics of Heathen Rome; and ancient statues were preserved as objects of adoration, being changed but in name. Pagan tem­ples also were converted into Christian churches. When Pope Gregory sent St. Austin over in the end of the sixth century to convert the Anglo-Saxons, he directed him to accommodate the cere­monies of the Christian worship, as much as pos­sible, to those of the Heathen, that the people might not be much startled at the change; and, in particular, he advised him to allow the Christian converts, on certain festivals, to kill and eat a great number of oxen to the glory of God, as they had formerly done to the honour of the devil.* In after times the clergy endeavoured to connect the remnants of Pagan idolatry with Christianity, in consequence of the difficulty they found in sup-
* Henry's History of England, 8vo. vol. iii. p. 194.

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