The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Rebuking The Parson

Source: Washington Irving, Old Christmas From the Sketch Book of Washington Irving (London: Macmillan & Co., Fifth Edition, 1886), p. 96; Illustrated by Randolph Caldecott.

Old Christmas Christmas Day

On reaching the church-porch, we found the parson rebuking the gray-headed sexton for having used mistletoe among the greens with which the church was decorated. It was, he observed, an unholy plant, profaned by having been used by the Druids in their mystic ceremonies ; and though it might be innocently employed in the festive ornamenting of halls and kitchens, yet it had been deemed by the Fathers of the Church as unhallowed, and totally unfit for sacred purposes. So tenacious was he on this point, that the poor sexton was obliged to strip down a great part of the humble trophies of his taste, before the parson would consent to enter upon the service of the day.

Editor's Note: Irving added this note:

The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas ; and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked, the privilege ceases.

See also:

Decking Churches And Houses With Evergreens At Christmas, John Brand, Observations on Popular Antiquities. With the Additions of Sir Henry Ellis. London: Chatto and Windus, 1888, pp. 278-283.

W. Carew Hazlitt, Faith and Folklore. Two Volumes. London: Reeves and Turner, 1905. ("Forming A New Edition of 'The Popular Antiquities of Great Britain' By Brand and Ellis."):

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