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In Italy it was enriched by connecting with it decorations from the Saturnalian festival held at tho same time. At that festival it was customary to burn many lights in honor of the God who destroyed children, also to distribute gifts among each other. Theso customs were transferred to Christmas, and their symbols associated with the Christmas decorations. In the North, sheep were sacred to the God of light, and may have been in like manner transferred and placed around the foot of the Christmas tree; while tho earnest but friendly form of John the Baptist among tho sheep, as also Adam and Evo, and tho serpent may be taken in tho Christian sphere as interpretations of the genealogical tree of Christ.
From this Christmas tree tho hopes of the future shine into the hearts of children, while tho memories of the past como over the spirits of adults It may bo called the highest family festival of the year. It cannot bo describod how wonderfully this festival, every year, prepares and consecrates the family for higher joy in its own sphere, as well as in the bosom of tho Church.
Tho Christmas Eve of tho family is continued in tho peculiar customs of Christmas Day in the Church, all which aro symbolical of the great event celebrated. The manger was set forth publicly in the old Catholic Church. Some of the ruder customs, as for instance, the Festival of Fools, and that of tho Ass—in reference -to the Ass of Vesta—have very properly been done away in the Protestant Church. Tho low and gross pleasures associated with Pagan mid-winter festivities, and which had unconsciously gone over and associated themselves with Christmas customs, making it a season for unrestrained indulgence, have given place to the more refined joys inspired by a true Christian spirit.
We may easily see the richness of the mystical commemoration of this day in the many-sidedness of tho christianized customs associating themselves with it. We find among all Pagan nations, about this season of the year, festivals of a similar though of a various local and national character. The winter solstice is in all parts of the earth so prominent and natural a point in the year that it could not be passed over without a commemoration. And those festivals common to all nations point, with a kind of prophecy, to one high festival in Christianity, as the true fulfillment of their own meaning.
Let us examine briefly, tho winter festivals of tho best known peoples, and especially those whoso connection with tho Christian Festival of Christmas are indisputable.
Even the people of India celebrate a festival at the time of the winter solst ice, in commemoration of the first manifestation of the gods—a festival of joy—named Pougol. The Per.-ians celebrated the festival Churremaus—that is, tho joyful day on which the king descended from his throne, and seated himself with his subjects at tho table, saying: "I am one of you." The Italians had a similar festival, which they greatly loved, on which they not only commemorated as the Persians did the appearance of the royal sun in his earthly course, but also called to mind the primitive times. Then follows—among the Persians—the festival Mihrgiin, in honor of Mithras, who, on the Brumal or winter-day, was born •in a rock}' grotto, surrounded by an Ox (symbol of Spring) and an Ass (symbol of Autumn). Thus, also, he is called Mithras Unconquerable—that is the tame as Sun unconquerable.
In anterior Asia the solstice was celobrated by binding and loosing the feet of Moloch and Mclkrath, by which they wished to represent the hemmed, and soon after released, course of the sun. Before Moloch, as before Mithras, fires were kindled; and to the lirst children were offered—that is, they wero made to pass through the fire, a custom which evidently stands related with the myth of Saturn. Among the Greeks, it was at this time, that a priestess in the mysteries exhibited Iacchus, Dyonysos lying at the mother's breast, the god as child, the now-born Bacchus as god of the year and god of the sun, in the mystical Fan, after the lightning, the first ray of the new sun, had killed his mother, Semelc. Hermes, also, who presided over the solstices, was said to have been born in a cave.
But, let us turn to the Egyptians. There, the- subject of this festival time is set forth on the old monuments in the most nianilold way. There ma}' be seen at one time, Isis in her delivery in the inmost sanctuary of the temple; and again, as she is nursing Carpocrates, tho new born god, in the form of a poor, flcshless child, sitting in her la]); and then again as the active boy, Horus, standing before his mother. Then, too, his birth may bo seen represented amid flowers and blossoms; for in Egypt the time of the solstice is the time of the shooting and blooming of plants. Farther, he may be seen as a child whose feet aro bound together, or ho is himself bundled up from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head, holding in both hands a staff ( the palm-scion as symbol of the year), the head of which is a hawk's-head (sign of the ascending sun)—or as a boy standing between his parents Osiris and Isis, who grasp each others hands, while he bears in his left hand a pestle as symbol of the sunbeam.
In Rome the festival was commemorated in a still greater variety of forms. As early as the 24th of November, the Brumali* commenced, which continued thirty days, celebrated in a kind of winter rest and winter enjoyment. These were a kind of preparatory festival, which attained its highest point and completion in the Saturnalia, into which it passed over on tho 17th of December. This was the festival of the sinking, dying annual snn, and thus also of tho earliest gods, and also of tho aucient times, and of the original relations of mankind. Saturnalia continued originally four or five days. No courts were held. Justice was suspended in honor of tho Solstice, Feasts were made, and all manner of gifts mutually bestowed, which wcro called Saturnalitia Prominent among the gifts wero wax candles as offerings to Saturn, especially after the human offerings had been exchanged for lights of life. All wore hats as a sign of freedom. Feasts wero made for servants, on which occasion their lords served them at the table, in memory
of the fact that at first there was neither lord nor servant, hnt all stood equal. A king of the feast and the festival was appointed, who gave the command: Tu bibe, Tu misce, Tu expelle, Tu abi, Tu veni, while all answered: Pareo, ne mca causa solvatur lusus.
So much beloved were the enjoyments of this festival, that at a later period two more days wero added to it, which wore called Sigillaria, because on them images, Sitjilla, of brass, silver and gold, or even also of clay, were presented especially to children. The last day was called Juvemdia, or Dies Juvenalis, a day added by Caligula, on which the adults renewed the wild sports of their childhood.
These were the festive days of servants and children, to whom the aged, the honored, and the high delighted to make themselves equal. For was i-t not the time when even the sun himself became young as a child again.—the time when Jupiter, often Juno also, as children of the goddess of the Hlonth, were carried in the arms of Vesta as their nurse.
At last the Egyptian symbol passed over into the Persian, and the commemoration was closed with the festival of the Sol invictus —the unconquerable Sun; after which still three other days were devoted to Phobus.
In northern paganism the Yule Festival, which came in mid-winter, was prevailingly similar to the festivals of the southern nations, and differed from them only in one particular, the ground of which is found in the difference of climate and of nature. It was a festival of Time—the close and beginning of a year, which they represented to themselves as a wheel—hence the word Yule is still perpetuated in the English word wheel, and according to some, also in the Romanic word Noel. With such joy was this festival celebrated that Jol means festivity, the German jolen, excessive joy; aDd the English jolly seems to have the same derivation.
The Yule festival was held in honor of Freyer, the god of the sun, and his wife Freya. On the hearth burns the Yule-clogb, Yule-log, a heavy stick of wood kindled. The Eber, which is the beast of Loki, who is at enmity with the sun-god, after it had been fattened, or taken in the chase, was prepared for the festival table. In Norway and Iceland the Yule fires sent their bright flames upward, out of doors. There was no lack of gift giving. These were carefully bound up and concealed from view, even as the gifts produced by the sun's light still are. Theso were cast into the houses as Yule-gifts, whilst the giver hasted away, to represent the secret mystery of the new year. Besides, the young men and women engaged in what was called the round dance, which remained yet in vogue in the middle ages, and gave much offence to the Christian ministers.
In Sweden it was customary to put up before the houses green pine, fir, and cedar trees; and masks were used to symbolize tho mysterious standing still of the sun in the long yet hopeful night of the solstice. It was the Modranight, the mother-night, sacred to the goddess Hertha (Earth), when tho unmarried inquired as to the future of their married life. The giving and enjoying of apples and nuts, which was the custom in the earlier heathen times, was to symbolize fruitfulness—Bo also was baking and churning.
So manifold are tho ways in which human presentiments have struggled, upon the basis of the more natural feeling, at the timo of the winter solstice, to attain a true conception of its peculiar meaning—a meaning which could only, and was only, niado clear to it by divine revelation. All became clear when the time of fultillment came, and the promised God-man prepared on this earth, sunken in error and darkness, eternal salvation for sinful man. Then it was 6een that as did all the the prophets, so also did all the presontiments of humanity—though theso darkly and unconeonsciously—testify of Him, and seek in Him their true and final fulfillment.
ANNA, WIFE OF ULRIC ZWINGLI.
It often, perhaps generally, comes to pass, that tho spheres and nets of the wives of great men lie in unknown retirement, just in proportion as the lives of their husbands are prominent and public. This is rather to their honor than otherwise. The less the outward world knows of them, tho better may they bo fulfilling their inner mission in tho sphere of tho family, tho golden circle of home.
In the case of Zwingli's Anna, this was certainly fulfilled. Biographers of the Swiss Informer have not been diligently intent upon bringing out her life with much prominence; yet sufficient has been preserved not only to enable us to make her acquaintance, but also induce us to form a high estimate of her excellent life. In presenting a brief sketch of her, we depend mainly upon an article by Frederick Kcsslcr in tho "Reformations Almanack" for the year 1819, which we abridge, translate freely, and complement from other sources.
Anna Zwingli was tho daughter of Oswald Eeinhart, and his wife Elizabeth, whose maiden name was Wynzurn. She was born at Zurich in the jear of our Lord 1489-91, lor the exact year of her birth is not recorded. Some of Zwingli's biographers say that she was descended of an ancient noblo family. Later and better authority, however, informs us that her family never belonged to the nobility, but that she had her origin from a civilian familyWith our American views of matters of the kind, this is not of much consequenco to us, one way or the other. To us it is more important to know, what good authorities state, that she was a woman distinguished for excellence among her sex, and highl}' respected and honored, not only in her native city, but as far as known after she had been brought out into a more public sphere. In a writing of John Pontisella, in 1576, addressed to a grand-child of Zwingli, she is mentioned as a woman "distinguished for her excellent and virtuons character."
Anna was not destitute of external personal attractiveness. In * the family registers she is described, after the manner of those times, "as a very beautiful person." These charms of her person, associated as they wero with still higher attractions of mind and spirit, did not fail early to draw toward her the attention, and to inspire with love for her the heart of a youth of a noble family. This young man was John Meyer von Knonau. His father, however, did not approve of his marriage with a maideD descended from the family of a civilian, and sought in many ways to prevent its consummation. The marriage was, however, in duo time effected. Her father never became reconciled to it. He sold bis governmental prerogatives, and all his estates at Knonau, to the government of Zurich, and cut off all further communication with his son.
Except the trouble caused by this circumstance, they lived happily together; only however, for a few years, when her husband was removed by death in 1518, leaving her a widow' with three children. She now devoted herself with great earnestness and love to the best interests of^her children, all of whom were yet small. The oldest, Gerold, was a very beautiful and promising child. With all the bitterness that had been mingled with her cup, she had the happiness of seeing her son, Gerold, grow up in the love of all that was good, while his talents and education wero fast preparing him for a position of usefulness and honor; so that before he was seventeen years old he became a member of the Great Council of his native city, Zurich.
The man who set the young Gerold in the way ot the noblo and the good, and was prominently instrumental in advancing him in useful knowledge and in drawing out and perfecting his nature, was TJlric Zwingli himself. Zwingli, as he himself informs us, was induced to receive young Meyer among his special friends, for two reasons—because he saw that ho was fondly devoted to the acquirement ot knowledge, and also because ho was a student under his particular friend Glarenus. To be one among Zwingli's special friends wa.s itself an advantage which insured sound education of mind, and noble cultivation of heart.
Whether the Reformer—which may well be supposed—was at this time already acquainted with Gerold's mother, or whether he was drawn into an acquaintance with her through his interest in her son, is not certainly known. This much, however, is known, that one year later he sued with success for the hand of the excellent widow Meyer von Knonau, and on the 2nd of April, 1524, received her as his wife under his friendly roof.
This step of the Zurich Eeformor did not fail to awaken the envy of his enemies, and move their tongues to the utterance of many reproachful words; the more so as he became united with one, who, by her previous marriage, had been raised to a position to which at that time much importance was attached. He folt him