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This month has Pisces or the fishes for its zodiacal sign. Numa, who was chosen by the Roman people to succeed Romulus as their king, and became their legislator, placed it the second in the year, as it remains with us, and dedicated it to Neptune, the lord of waters. Its name is from the Februa, or Feralia, sacrifices offered to the manes of the gods at this season. Ovid in his Fasti attests the derivation : In ancient times, purgations had the name Of Februa, various customs prove the same ; The pontiffs from the rer and flamen crave A lock of wool; in former days they gave To wool the name of Februa. A pliant branch cut from a lofty pine, which round the temples of the priests they
Is Februa called; which if the priest demand, A branch of pine is put into his hand;
In short, with whatsoe'er our hearts we hold
now call the colewurt, the greatest potwurt in time long past that our ancestors used, and the broth made therewith was thereof also called kele; for before we borrowed from the French the name of potage, and the name of herbe, the one in our owne language was called kele, and the other wurt; and as this kele-wurt, or potage-hearbe, was the chiefe winterwurt for the sustenance of the husbandman, so was it the first hearbe that in this moneth began to yeeld out wholesome yong sprouts, and consequently gave thereunto the name of Sprout-kele.” The “kele "here mentioned, is the wellknown kale of the cabbage tribe. But the Saxons likewise called this month “Solmonath,” which Dr. Frank Sayers in his “Disquisitions” says, is explained by Bede “mensis plancentarum,” and rendered by Spelman in an unedited manuscript “pan-cake month,” because in the course of it, cakes were offered by the pagan Saxons to the sun; and “Sol,” or “soul,” signified “food,” or cakes.” In “The Months,” by Mr. Leigh Hunt,
he remarks that “if February were not
the precursor of spring, it would be the least pleasant season of the year, November not excepted. The thaws now take place; and a clammy mixture of moisture and cold succeeds, which is the most disagreeable of wintry sensations.” Yet so variable is our climate, that the February of 1825 broke in upon the inhabitants of the metropolis with a day or two of 3. cold, and realized a delightful escription of January sparkled from the same pen. “What can be more delicately beautiful than the spectacle which sometimes salutes the eye at the breakfastroom window, occasioned by the hoarfrost dew! If a jeweller had come to dress every plant over night, to surprise an Eastern sultan, he could not produce any thing like the ‘pearly drops,' or the “silvery plumage.’ An ordinary bed of greens, to those who are not at the mercy of their own vulgar associations, will sometimes look crisp and corrugated emerald, powdered with diamonds.”
st. Ignatius. St. Pionius, A. D. 250, St.
Bridget. St. Kinnia. St. Sigebert II.
St. Bride, otherwise St. Bridget, confers her name upon the parish of St. Bride's, for to her its church in Fleetstreet is dedicated. Butler says she was born in Ulster, built herself a cell under a large oak, thence called Kill-dara, or cell of the oak, was joined by others of her own sex, formed several nunneries, and became patroness of Ireland.. “ But,” says Butler, “a full account of her virtues has not been transmitted down to us, together with the veneration of her name;"
et he declares that “her five modern #. mention little else but wonderful miracles.” According to the same author, she flourished in the beginning of the sixth century, her body was found in the twelfth century, and her head “is now kept in the church of the Jesuits at Lisbon.” This writer does not favour us with any of her miracles, but bishop Patrick mentions, that wild ducks swimming in the water, or flying in the air, obeyed her call, came to her hand, let her embrace them, and then she let them fly away again. He also found in the breviary of Sarum, that when she was sent a-milking hy her mother to make butter, she gave away all the milk to the poo:: that when the rest of the maids brought in their milk she prayed, and the butter multiplied; that the butter she gave away she divided into twelve parts, “as if it were for the twelve apostles; and one part she made bigger than any of the rest, which stood for Christ's portion; though it is strange,” says Patrick, “that she forget to make another inequality by ordering one portion more of the butter to be made bigger than the remaining ones in honour of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles.” BURIAL OF A LLELUIA. In Mr. Fosbroke's “British Monarchism,” the observation of this catholic ceremony is noticed as being mentioned in “Ernulphus's Annals of Rochester Cathedral,” and by Selden. From thence it appears to have taken place just before the octaves of Easter Austin says, “that it used to be sung in all churches from Easter to Pentecost, but Damasus ordered it to be performed at certain times, whence it was chanted on Sundays from the octaves of Epiphany to Septuagesima, and on the Sundays from the octaves of Pentecost and Advent. One mode of burying the Alleluia was this: in the sabbath of the Septuagesima at Nones, the choristers assembled in the great vestiary, and there arranged the ceremony. Having finished the last ‘Benedicamus,’ they advanced with crosses, torches, holy waters, and incense, carrying a turf (Glebam) in the manner of a coffin, passed through the choir and went howling to ...the cloister, as far as the place of interment; and then having sprinkled the water, and censed the place, returned by the same road. According to a story (whether true or false) in one of the churches of Paris, a choir boy used to whip a top, marked with Alleluia, written in golden letters, from one end of the choir to the other. In other places Alleluia was buried by a serious service on Septuagesima Sunday.”
call the Purification of the virgin, they observe it with great pomp. It stands as a holiday in the calendar of the church of England. Naogeorgus thus introduces the day; or rather Barnaby Googe, in his translation of that author's, “Popish Kingdom:” “Then comes the Day wherein the Virgin offred Christ unto The Father chiefe, as Moyses law commaunded hir to do. Then numbers great of Tapers large, both men and women beare To Church, being halowed there with pomp, and dreadful words to heare. This done, eche man his Candell lightes where chiefest seemeth hee, Whose Taper greatest may be seene and fortunate to bee; Whose Candell burneth cleare and bright, a wondrous force and might Doth in these Candels lie, which if at any time they light, They sure beleve that neyther storme or tempest dare abide, Nor thunder in the skies be heard, nor any Levil's spide, Nor fearefull sprites that walke by night, nor hurts of frost or haile.”— According to “The Posey of Prayers, or the Key of Heaven,” it is called Candlemas, because before mass is said this day, the church blesses her candles for the whole year, and makes a procession with hallowed or blessed candles in the hands of the faithful." From catholic service-books, quoted in “Pagano Papismus,” some particulars are collected concerning the blessing of the candles. Being at the altar, the priest says over them several prayers; one of which commences thus: “O Lord Jesu Christ, who enlightenest every one that cometh into the world, pour out thy benediction upon these Candles, and sanctifie them with the light of thy grace,” &c. Another begins: “Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Everlasting God, who hast created all things of nothing, and by the labour of bees caused this liquor to come to the perfection of a wax candle; we humbly beseech thee, that by the invocation of thy most holy name, and by the intercession of the blessed virgin, ever a virgin, whose festivals are this day devoutly celebrated, and by the prayers of all thy saints, thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless and sanctifie these candles,” &c. Then the priest sprinkles the candles thrice with holy water, saying “Sprinkle me with,” &c. and perfumes them thrice with incense. One of the consecratory prayers begins: “O Lord Jesu Christ, bless this creature of wax to us thy suppliants; and infuse into it, by the virtue of the holy cross, thy heavenly benediction; that in whatsoever places it shall be lighted, or put, the devil may depart, and tremble, and fly away, with all his ministers, from those habitations, and not presume any more to disturb them,” &c. There is likewise this benediction : “I bless thee, O wax, in the name of the holy trinity, that thou may'st be in every place the ejection of Satan, and subversion of all his companions,' &c. During the saying of these prayers, various bowings and crossings are interjected; and when the ceremonies of consecration are over, the chiefest priest goes to the altar, and he that officiates receives a candle from him ; afterwards, that priest, standing before the altar towards the people, distributes the candles, first to the priest from whom he received a candle, then to others in order, all kneeling (except bishops) and kissing the candie, and also kissing the hand of the priest who delivers it. When he begins to distribute the candles, they sing, “A light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” After the candles are distributed, a solemn procession is made; in which one carries a censer, another a crucifix, and the rest burning candles in their hands. The practice is treated of by Butler in his notice of the festival under this head, “On blessing of Candles and the Procession.” It is to be gathered from him that “St. Bernard says the procession was first made by St. Joseph, Simeon, and Anne, as an example to be followed by all the earth, walking two and two, holding in their hands candles, lighted from fire, first blessed by the priests, and singing.” The candle-bearing has reference to Simeon's declaration in the temple when he took Jesus in his arms, and affirmed that he was a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Israel. This was deemed sufficient ground by the Romish church, whereon to adopt the torch-bearing of the pagans in honour of their own deities, as a ceremony in honour of the presentation of Jesus in the temple. The pagans used lights in their worship, and Constantine, and other emperors,endowed churches with land and various possessions, for the maintenance of lights in catholic churches, and frequently presented the ecclesiastics with coffers full of candles and tapers.
Mr. Fosbroke shows, from catholic authorities, that light-bearing on Candlemas day is an old Pagan ceremony; and from Du Cange, that it was substituted by F. Gelasius for the candles, which in February the Roman people used to carry in the Lupercalia. Pope Innocent, in a sermon on this festival, quoted in “Pagano Papismus,” inquires, “Why do we (the catholics) in this feast carry candles 2" and then he explains the matter by way of answer. “Because,” says he, “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 eandles, so they, at 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,” says the pope, “what was done before to the honour of Ceres is now done to the honour of the Virgin.” Polydore Vergil, observing on the pagan processions and the custom of publicly carrying about images of the gods with relics, says, “Our priests do the same thing. We observe all these ceremonies, but I know not whether the custom is as good as it is showy ; I fear, I fear, I say, that in these things, we rather lease the gods of the heathen than Jesus hrist, for they were desirous that their worshippers should be magnificent in their rocessions, as Sallust says; but Christ É. nothing more than this, telling us, When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door pray to thy Father. What will then become of us, if we act contrary to his commandment? Surely, whatever may become of us, we do act contrary to it.” Brand shows, from “Dunstan's Concord of Monastic Rules,” that the monks went in surplices to the church for candles, which were to be consecrated, sprinkled with holy water, and censed 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 offered to the priest. The monks' candles signified the use of those in the parable of the wise virgins. In catholic countries the people joined the priests in their public processions to the churches, every individual bearing a burning candle, and the churches themselves blazed with supernumerary illuminations at mid-day. It is to be noted, that from Candlemas the use of tapers at vespers and litanies, which prevailed throughout the winter, ceased until the ensuing ALL HALLow Mass; and hence the origin of an old English proverb in Ray's Collection— “On Candlemas-day Throw candle and candlestick away.”
Candlemas candle-carrying remained in England till its abolition by an order in council, in the second year of king Edward VI.
The “Golden Legend” relates, that a lady who had given her mantle to a poor man for the love of our lady, would not go to church on Candlemas-day, but went into her own private chapel, and kneeling before the altar, fell asleep, and had a miraculous vision, wherein she saw herself at church. Into this visionary church she imagined that a troop of virgins came, with a noble virgin at their head, “crowned ryght precyously,” and seated themselves in order; then a troop of young men, who seated themselves in like order; then one, with a proper number of candles, gave to * a candle, and to the lady herself he gave a candle of wax; then came St. Laurence as a deacon, and St. Vincent as a sub-deacon, and Jesus Christ as the priest, and two angels bearing candles; then the two angels began the Introit of the mass, and the virgins sung the mass; then the virgins went and each offered the candle to the priest, and the priest waited for the lady to offer her candle; then “the glorious quene of virgyns” sent to her to say that she was not courteous to make the priest tarry so long for her, and the lady answered that the priest might go on with the mass, for she should keep her candle herself, and not offer it; and the virgin sent a second time, and the lady said she would not offer the candle; then “the quene of virgyns” said to the messenger, “Pray her to offer the candle, and if she will not, take it from her by force;” still she would not offer the candle, and therefore the messenger seized it; but the lady held so fast and long, and the messenger drew and pulled so hard, that the candle broke, and the lady kept half. Then the lady awoke, and found the piece of candle in
her hand; whereat she marvelled, and returned thanks to the glorious virgin, who had not suffered her to be without a mass on Candlemas-day, and all her life kept the piece of candle for a relie; and all they that were touched therewith were healed of their maladies and sicknesses.
Poetry is the history of ancient times. We know little of the times sung by Homer but from his verses. To Herrick we must confess our obligation for acquaintance with some of the manners pertaining to this “ great day in the calendar.” Perhaps, had he not written, we should be ignorant that our forefathers fared more daintily during the Christmas holidays than at other seasons; be unaware of the rule for setting out the due quantum of time, and orderly succession, to Christmas ever-greens; and live, as most of us have lived, but ought not to live longer, without being informed, that the Christmas-log may be burnt until this day, and must be quenched this night till Christmas comes again.
End now the white-loafe and the pye, And let all sports with Christmas dye. + -
Kindle the Christmas Brand, and then Till sunne-set let it burne,
Which quencht, then lay it up agen, Till Christmas next returne.
Part must be kept wherewith to teend
How severely he enjoins the removal of the last greens of the old year, and yet how essential is his reason for their displacement: Candlemas Eve. Down with the Rosemary, and so Down with the Baies and Misletoe; Down with the Holly, Ivie, all Where with ye drest the Christmas Hall; That so the superstitious find No one least Branch there left behind : For look, how many leaves there be Neglected there, maids, trust to me, So many goblins you shall see. Herrick. Hearken to the gay old man again, and participate in his joyous anticipations of pleasure from the natural products of the new year. His next little poem is a collyrium for the mind's eye :