The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

December 14 - Ember Week

William Hone, The Every Day Book, 2 Vols. London: William Tegg, 1825, 1827.

Volume 1

St. Spiridion, Abp. A.D. 348. Sts. Nicasius, 9th Abp. of Rheims, and his Companions, 5th Cent.

Ember Week

This is an ancient fast, wherein monks were enjoined to great abstinence preparatory to the festival of Christmas.


William Hone, The Year Book of Daily Recreation and Information. London: Thomas Tegg, 1832. December 14.

Approach of Christmas.

A writer in the Worcester Journal says, “Happiness now spreads through the country like an epidemic, and all parties cordially agree in preparing to greet old Christmas with a hearty welcome. It is an extraordinary faculty of the human mind, that we are always enabled to garnish past occurrences with every pleasure and with every scene of joy in connexion with them; while every circumstance that might at the time have cast a momentary gloom over the scene is buried in convenient oblivion. I recollect, when I was quite a boy, with what delightful feelings I accompanied my uncle to his parish church for the first time on Christmas day; with spirits light and buoyant, and free from every care; for the Cares of a young heart are as traces upon the sea sand, which each returning wave of pleasure washes away. I never shall forget with what pleasure I gazed upon the villagers dressed out in their Sunday finery, with healthy smiling faces, as they gossipped in groups, or strolled along the well-known path to church. The scenery, too, was imposing. The church stands upon a high ground, and commands one of the finest prospects that the eye can behold. On the one hand, the river is seen appearing and disappearing from its dark deep channel, while, on the other, the ancient castle of the Nevilles stands in gloomy grandeur amidst boundless forests of oak, coëval with itself, and far to the west, the Border mountains tower like a ridge of clouds along the horizon. The church is one of those quaint old-fashioned buildings of grey stone so common to the north of England; and, as you enter the low portal, you are struck with the reverend appearance of the interior — the old oaken pews and benches, all cut and carved into most mysterious hieroglyphics, with a sprig of holly, emblematic of the season, stuck in the corner of each. — What heart does not dilate, with mingled pleasure and regret, at the recollection of the scenes of early life; of the many happy Christmas evenings spent in the society of those who were dearest to us upon earth where the yule-clog blazed bright, and sent its cheering influence round the social circle; and where happiness was reflected from every face — the schoolboy, eager and impetuous in all his holiday games and tricks — the young and tender female, sitting in sweet retreating modesty, or blushing and smiling in all the charms of innocence and budding beauty — all remind us of ‘days of other years.’ I cannot resist the impulse of saluting the joyful season as it passes, and heartily wishing all my kind readers a full enjoyment of its pleasures.”

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December 15.

Christmas At The Temple

December 15, 1641, Mr. Evelyn says his Diary, “I was elected one of the comptrollers of the Middle Temple revelers, as the fashion of the young gentlemen and students was, the Christmas being kept this year with great solemnity.”

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