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across the country with a pleasant chattering, sit solitarily amongst the comfortless trees, uttering their plaintive cry of-cock-shute,''cock-shute,' and the very rooks peer about after worms in the fields with a drooping air. Instead of the enchantment of hoar-frost, you have naked hedges, sallow and decaying weeds beneath them, brown and wet pastures, and sheets of ice, but recently affording so much fine exercise to skaters and sliders, half submersed in water, full of great cracks, scattered with straws and dirty patches, and stones half liberated by the thaw. Such are the miserable features of the time.”—Howitt's Book of the Seasons.
Verstegan tells us this month was called by our Saxon ancestors, sprout-kele,“ by kele meaning the kele-wort, which we now call the colewort, the greatest potwort in time long past that our ancestors used, and the broth made therewith was thence also called kele ; for before we borrowed from the French the name of potage and the name of herbs, the one in our own language was called kele, and the other wort; and as this kele-wort, or potage-hearbe, was the chief winterwort for the sustenance of the husbandman, so was it the first hearbe that in this moneth began to yield out wholesome young sprouts, and consequently gave thereunto the name of sprout-kele.”
It had also the name of Solmonath, which Bede explains by Pan-cake-month, because in the course of it cakes were offered up by the Pagan Saxons to the sun, and sol, or soul, signified, food, or cakes.” It is scarcely necessary to add that the Latin Februarius, the origin of our February, was derived from februa, an expiatory, or purifying sacrifice
offered to the Manes, because in that month the Luperci, or priests of Pan, perambulated the city, carrying thongs of goat-skin, with which they scourged the women, and this was received for an expiation. Hence we have the word, though it is now well-nigh obsolete, of februation, in the meaning of a purification.
On Candlemas Eve, the 1st of February, was kindled the yule-brand, and allowed to burn till sunset, when it was quenched and carefully laid by to teend the Christmas clog, or log, at the next return of the
season, And, where 'tis safely kept, the fiend Can do no mischief there.-HERRICK.
The rosemary, the bay, the ivy, the holly, and the misletoe, the Christmas decorations of hall and cottage, were now pulled down, when according to the popular superstition not a branch, nor even a leaf, should be allowed to remain :
For look, how many leaves there be,
So many goblins you shall see.-HERRICK. In their place, however, the “greener box was upraised," and Christmas now was positively at an end. Some, indeed, considered this to have been the case on Twelfth Night; and old Tusser, in his “ Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry,” strongly contends for it; but then his head was more full of the cart and plough than of regard for old customs : and, like any other master, he was naturally anxious that the holidays should be ended, and the labourers should get to work again as soon as possible; and certes, merry-making, however agreeable it may be, will not help to dig the land or sow the grain. But in spite of these wise saws, the truth of which nobody would contest, human feelings are stronger than human reason, and customs, when they tend to pleasure, will maintain their ground till they are superseded—not by privations, but by other forms of amusement. Having therefore tolerated the rites of Candlemas Eve, we may as well put up with those of Candlemas Day. And why was it called Candlemas ? hear how Pope Innocent replies to the question, in a sermon upon this festival, quoted in Pagano Papismus—"Because the Gentiles
dedicated the month of February to the infernal gods, and as at the beginning of it Pluto stole Proserpine ; and her mother, Ceres, sought her in the night with lighted candles, so they, in the beginning of this month, walked about the city with lighted candles; because the holy fathers could not utterly extirpate this custom, they ordained that Christians should carry about candles in honour of the blessed Virgin Mary; and thus what was done before to the honour of Ceres is now done to the honour of the Virgin.”
There can be little doubt that this is the real origin of the custom, though Butler, upon the authority of St. Bernard, states, that the candlebearing at this season had reference to Simeon's declaration in the Temple, when the parents brought in the child Jesus, that he was a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of the people Israel.” Few, however, will be inclined to accept this far-fetched derivation when one so much more obvious is at hand.
From whatever cause the ceremony originated, it acquired many additional rites in the process of time, according to the manners and habits of those who adopted it. We are told in Dunstan's “ Concord of Monastic Rules," that “ the monks went in surplices to the church for candles, which were to be consec
ecrated, sprinkled with holy water, and incensed by the abbot. Every monk took a candle from the sacrist and lighted it. A procession was made, thirds and mass were celebrated, and the candles, after the offering, were presented to the priest. The monks' candles signified the use of them in the parable of the wise virgins."
Other authorities tell us that there was on this day a general consecration of all the candles to be burnt in the Catholic churches throughout the whole year; and it is probable enough that all these customs may have prevailed at various times and in different places. It should also be mentioned that from Candlemas the use of tapers at vespers and litanies, which had continued through the whole winter, ceased until the ensuing All Hallow Mass, which will serve to explain the old English proverb in Ray's Collection
On Candlemas Day
The ceremony of carrying Candlemas candles continued in England, till it was repealed for its Popish tendency by an order in council in the second year of King Edward VI. Still the many and various customs, that grew out of it, could not be extirpated by any legal enactments. They assumed a multitude of forms, the innate signification of which is now as much lost to us as that of the characters upon the Egyptian pyramids. Thus Hone tells us, from the communication of some unnamed individual, of a custom that prevailed in Lynne Regis, and which, so far as he knew, was confined to a single family—“The wood-ashes of the family being sold throughout the year as they were made, the person who purchased them annually sent a present at Candlemas Day of a large candle. When night came, the candle was lighted, and, assisted by its illumination, the inmates regaled themselves with cheering draughts of ale and sippings of punch, or some other animating beverage, until the candle had burnt out. The coming of the Candlemas candle was looked forward to by the young ones as an event of some consequence, for of usage they had a sort of right to sit up all night and partake of the refreshments till all retired to rest, the signal for which was the self-extinction of the Candlemas candie."
The peculiar merits of this day are not yet exhausted. It was a favourite epoch for drawing prognostics of the weather, it being held on all hands that the second of February ought on no account to be fine.*
St. VALENTINE'S DAY.-Saint Valentine ?-all we know of this holy personage is that he was a priest at Rome, where he was martyred about 270, and had in consequence the honour of being assigned a niche in the record of Saints, his post being the 14th of February. Enquiries have been made, but hitherto in vain, to discover what the good bishop had done that should entitle him to have this day above all others appropriated to him. We have only, however, to suppose that his martyrdom took place on the 14th, and the whole mystery is solved, all the other peculiarities of the day being merely accidents, that had nothing to do with his
Similar superstitions are at the present day prevalent in Bavaria, and in other parts of Germany.
individual character, and which would have as readily attached to any one else, who had met with the good fortune of being sainted at that particular season.
The origin of this custom has been sought for in the Lupercalia of the Romans, and with much apparent reason, as will be evident when we come to enquire into the old mode of celebrating Valentine's Day, which, as we shall presently see, had but little in common with the modern habit of sending silly letters by the penny post. In ancient Rome a festival was held about the middle of February, called the Lupercalia, in honour of Pan and Juno, whence the latter obtained the epithet of Februata Februalis, and Fabrulla. Upon this occasion the names of young women were put, amidst a variety of ceremonies, into a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed, and so rooted had this, like many other customs, become amongst the people, that the pastors of the early Christian church found themselves unable to eradicate it. They therefore, instead of entering into a fruitless struggle, adopted their usual policy on such occasions, and since they could not remove what they held to be an unsightly nuisance, they endeavoured, as å skilful architect would do, to convert it into an ornament. Thus they substituted the names of Saints for those of women, a change that would not seem to have been generally, or for any long time, popular, since we read that at a very remote period the custom prevailed of the young men drawing the names of the girls, and that the practice of adopting mates by chance-lots soon grew reciprocal between the sexes. In fact Pan and Juno vacated their seats in favour of Saint Valentine, but the Christian bishop could not escape having much of the heathen ritual fastened upon him. We must not, however, imagine that Valentine's day, any more than Epiphany or Candlemas, was celebrated with one uniform mode of observance; the customs attendant upon it varied considerably according to the place and period. In many parts of England, and more particularly in London, the person of the opposite sex, who is first met in the morning, not being an inmate of the house, was taken to be the Valentine, a usage that is noticed by the poet Gay