The festival of the 25th of December, was celebrated by the Druids in Britain and Ireland with great fires lighted on the tops of the hills. druids-christmasThe festival was repeated on the twelfth day, or what we now call the Epiphany. In some parts the fires are still continued.

Godfrey Higgins, commenting upon this, says, “We have not now remaining “any documents to inform us what, amongst the British Druids, was “the object or name of this festival, but perhaps we may gather it from “circumstances.”It was the great festival of Frey, and this is evidenced by the words of the Venerable Bede, who wrote in the 7th. century; he states that this very night was observed by the heathen Saxons.

“They began” he says, “their year on the 8th of the “Calends of January [25th December], which is now our Christmas Day; and the very night before, which is now Holy to us, was “by them called Msedrenack, or the Night of Mothers; because as “we imagine, of those ceremonies which were performed that night.” The Yule Clog, therefore, had probably been a part of that night’s ceremonies. .The name indicates this, and tells its origin to every age.

The feasting, and drinking, and boisterous mirth of the winter, as observed by the Northmen, cannot here be described, for to the majority of modern readers, the animalism would be intensely disgusting.

Our object, however, is not the feast, but the log and the candle, and the reason of their burning it at this season. Was it not quite natural that, in celebrating the festival of the “Source of Light and “Heat,” they should employ such means as would give them a foretaste of the blessings his return would confer? This was achieved through burning the monster log and light, and as they danced round the blazing fire and felt the warmth it imparted, they felt perfectly secure that no better symbol of the Birth of the Sun could be employed.

Gurth and Raynar rejoiced in their hearts, because the power of bale and evil, the fiend of darkness, and frost, and storm, was being bound again by the All-powerful; yet, while they rejoiced, they trembled also as the thought stole over them that a time would come when darkness would prevail; when the serpent generated by Loki would obtain his victory, and the world would come to an end. No thought was deeper rooted in the Northman’s mind. But this gave him greater reason for rejoicing.

When the victory would be gained he knew not—perhaps next year, and possibly not for an hundred years, but, as the season came round, there was a feeling of fear, the which only made the Rejoicing heartier when the supposed hour of danger had passed away.

But the Scandinavians were not the only people who celebrated this season in the manner above described.<

SOURCE: The Christmas Book

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