"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Sunday, January 01, 2006

All Hayle to the Days

There was a time, not so long ago really, when all Christendom knew that Christmas was not a day but a season, that began rather than ended on December 25 and lasted for twelve days, until the Feast of the Three Kings on January 6. And smack dab in the middle of that season comes New Years' Day, which is also celebrated in the Roman Calendar as the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. So today is properly not the time to sigh with the weariness of a bloody awful hangover and take down the dried out and forlorn Christmas tree, but to prepare for another week of feasting, merry-making, and respite from toil.

Of course, our modern culture does not permit that of most of us. There has already been more than enough tomfoolery and corruption of productivity for our relentlessly commerical culture to condone. Happy New Year to all: let your resolutions lie lightly upon your shoulders and keep the merriness of the season in your hearts.


All hayle to the days that merite more praise then all the rest of the year;
& welcome the nights, that double delights as well for the poor as the peer:
Good fortune attend each merry man's friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with Carrols and Songs to drive the cold winter away.

The Court all in state now opens her gate an bids a free welcome to most;
The City likewise tho' somewhat precise doth willingly part with her cost;
And yet, by report from City to Court
The Countrey gets the day:
More Liquor is spent, and better content, to drive the cold winter away.

Thus none will allow of solitude now, but merrily greets the time,
To make it appeare of all the whole yeare that this is accounted the Prime,
December is seene apparel'd in greene
And January, fresh as May,
Comes dancing along with a cup or a Song to drive the cold winter away.

This time of the yeare is spent in good cheare,
Kind neighbours together to meet
To sit by the fire, with friendly desire each other in love to greet:
Old grudges forgot are put in a pot,
All sorrows aside they lay;
The old and the young doth carrol this Song,
To drive the cold winter away.

To maske and to mum kind neighbours will come
With Wassels of nut-browne Ale,
To drinke and carouse to all in this house, as merry as buck in the pale;
Where cake, bread and cheese, is brought for yr fees
To make you the longer stay;
The fire to warme will do you no harme, to drive the cold winter away.

When Christmas tide comes in like a Bride, with Holly and Ivy clad, --
Twelve dayes in the yeare much mirth and good cheare
In every household is had:
The Countrey guise is then to devise some gambols of Christmas play;
Whereas the yong men do best that they can
To drive the cold winter away.

When white-bearded Frost hath threatened his worst,
And fallen from Branch & Bryer,
& time away cals from husbandry hals,
& from the good countryman's fire,
Together to go to Plow and to sow,
to get us both food and array:
And thus with content the time we have spent
To drive the cold winter away.

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