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Yule-Tide in Many Lands
written by "Pringle, Mary Poague"
...erved throughout the cooler countries, is also observed by the children of France, and the animals are given especial care and[128] attention at this joyous season. Each house-cat is given all it can eat on Christmas Eve for if, by any chance, it mews, bad luck is sure to follow. Of course a great deal is done for the poorer class at Christmas; food, clothing, and useful gifts are liberally bestowed, and so far as it is possible, the season is one of good will and good cheer for all. If the French still hold to many of the Christmas customs bequeathed them by their Aryan ancestors, New Year's Day shows the influence of their Roman conquerors, for a combination of Northern and Southern customs is noticeable on that occasion. Each public official takes his seat of office on that day, after the manner of the Romans. Family feasting, exchanging of gifts among friends, and merrymaking are features of New Year's Day rather than of Christmas in[129] France, although children delight in placing their sabots, or shoes, on the hearth for the Christ-child to fill with gifts on Christmas Eve. In early times New Year's Day was the occasion of the Festival of Fools, when the wildest hilarity prevailed, and for upward of two hundred and forty years that custom continued in favor. Now Christmas is essentially the church festival; New Year's Day is the social festival, and Epiphany is the oldest festival observed during Yule-tide in France. The latter festival is derived from the Roman Saturnalia, the main feature of the celebration being lawlessness and wild fun. Many of the features of former times are no longer in vogue, but the Twelfth-Night supper still continues in favor, when songs, toasts, and a general good time finishes the holiday season.[130] December is really the month of song in France. From the first to the last every one who can utter a sound is singing, singing, singing. Strolling musicians go from house to house playing and si...

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