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Page:Chinese Speaker (E. Morgan, 1916).djvu/181

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161
THE CHINESE SPEAKER

church bell enter the church side by side, and one by one sit reverently, just like as though they were waiting for the descent of Jesus. Shortly when llie rolling tones of the organ are heard, all join with one voice in singing hymns. Then the sermon is preached by the pastor, and, earnest prayer is made by the congregation, until the hour of twelve when the service ends. In the evening every family has gatherings for all sorts of festivities, and relatives and friends meet in one room, and perform sacred rites.

Besides these things there is yet the custom of Christmas presents. All acquaintances choose choice and beautiful articles for sending to one another. Parents also buy either toys or sweets which they put in an empty stocking and give to their children. The way they send these presents is really strange. As a rule these are prepared and put up beforehand, and on Christmas eve when the children are asleep, they place them on the bed. When the children wake next morning the parents tell them, Jesus loves you and sent you a stocking-full of presents in the night, you should always follow Him and not forget His kindness.

Besides these things, there are very many charitable families, who buy loaves or cakes, or various articles of clothing and go round the village and place them at the doors of the poor people, making believe that Jesus sent them there. Again there are many people who know of the poverty of their neighbours, yet are ordinarily unable to offer help, though they desire to do so, because they are afraid to mention the matter of help. As every one possesses the spirit of independency, so when one sees a man really poor, and wishes to go to offer him help, he can't do it as he would, for fear of implying that the man lacks this spirit of independency. So nothing is to be done but just wait for Christmas, and put one's help at his door´╝î taking care to hide one's name, and so when the poor man sees this, on opening his door, on the morrow, he is naturally moved to tears.

In a word, foreigners look upon Christmas day as the most joyful day of the year. Moneyed people make merry, and penniless people make merry. But as it is hard for penniless people to make merry, so those with money share some of their own joy with them. Were all on earth to have this appearance of rejoicing, that joy indeed would be perfect. This generous and pure custom cannot find its equal with us Chinese.

Not only do the common people spend this day joyfully, but the Kings and Presidents of the various countries too, summon their ministers and nobles together to a feast, and permit the people to come in, and, walk about in the palace, and,