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the Light of the world—the Light brought into the world this, day, that we might have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but walk as children of the Light and of the day."
"It truly is so," the Swede rejoined; "yet, perhaps, many persons, like myself, do not con* sider the type in the custom they preserve. It is an old custom here, and the people like it because it is an old custom."
At the great door that admits me to my Stockholm quarters, I found a neat little girl, with a basket of some small plants in her hand. She asked me to buy.
"It is our first spring flower," said my friend; "the Blo-sippa."
"The first flower of spring on Christmas-day in Sweden?" I said, smiling sceptically; for I had seen the trees without an opening leaf on the 10th of May. There were some large, thick, angular leaves encircling the tiniest blue buds. The Latin name is Anemone Hepetica; it is the same little flower that blossoms in our gardens in the month of March.
These budding flowers are already formed in autumn; they remain so, buried under the snow in the forests, all the winter. When spring comes, and the snow melts off, you behold the tiny blosippa almost ready dressed to meet the sun; it has only to open out its ready-prepared buds, and then it smiles up at the sun, and strews the still cold forest ground with its blossoms, growing round the roots of the dark firs or leafless trees.
The child had brought that little flower all the way from its snowy bed in the park of Eoyal Haga, rooting it from beneath the snow, and carrying it five or six English miles to sell it for a halfpenny! I thought the blo-sippa would be a pretty subject for a poem; she, poor child, attached to it only the idea of two skillings; and when I gave her rather more, or about a penny English, with some Christmas confectionary, I received in return a curtsey that might have graced one of our drawing-rooms, and a look of thankfulness that would have graced all places. I put the flower in water in my room; but heat seems less congenial to it than cold; and perhaps a lump of snow from the forest of the Palace of Haga, would have been the only means of preserving its life. I returned to a solitary breakfast-table, and spent the rest of this Christmas-day—the first I ever spent in a foreign land—quite alone.
The post, unaffected by Christmas rejoicings, had brought afflictive intelligence to the home of the British minister, where I should otherwise have spent the day amid true English hospitality and kindness. But it is well sometimes to spend a Christmas-day alone, as a stranger in a strange land. It teaches us at other times to think of those who may be so situated, when we, in our own land and homes, celebrate the blessed advent that brought good-will to men.
Holidays are numerous in Sweden; saints' days are very few; that is to say, these days are not observed as Catholic or Church festivals, but simply as Swedish or national holidays. The former idea they seem to class among the things that belonged to the old time.
St. Stephen's-day—Boxing-day, as it is sometimes rudely called in England, to the infinite perplexity of foreigners, some of whom want to persuade me that it is among us made the festival of our great national art—St. Stephen's-day is, in Sweden, in one sense, a greater holiday than its predecessor; it is observed in a less religious, but more festive manner, than Christmas. Shops and offices of all descriptions are closed; visiting, meeting, congratulating, eating, drinking, walking, sledge-driving, smoking, and talking, may well fill up a short winter day.
My post of observation is my window, looking over my favourite place, Carl Tretons Torg. What a scene I look down upon now! the whole street, the whole place, covered with black figures moving over the snowy ground. Everybody is going out to dinner. You may know that such is the intention of these good people, for it is between two and three o'clock, and the women wear black hoods or black silk kerchiefs on their heads. Among true Swedes no lady, young or old, goes out to a party or public place without a hood or kerchief, which is taken off on entering. Maid servants, and decent women of the lower ranks, wear the kerchief at all times when abroad. A bonnet would be thought by them an impropriety, a "setting up for something above them;" their entire costume is still appropriate and distinctive. May they long retain their own fashions, and scorn the tawdry bonnets, flowers, and imitative modes of a similar class among ourselves!
To look out of my window on this bright day,