...for the maintenance of good fellowship
Micholas Breton was an English poet, who lived 1551–c.1623. He belonged to an old family settled at Layer-Breton in Essex. His father, William Breton, had made a considerable fortune by trade. In his last book, 'Fantastickes', Nicholas writes of Christmas, perhaps recalling his Essex childhood
It is now Christmas, and not a Cup of drinke must passe without a Caroll, the Beasts, Fowle, and Fish come to a generall execution, and the Corne is ground to dust for the Bakehouse and the Pastry.
Cards and Dice purge many a purse, and the Youth show their agility in Shoeing of the Wild Mare. Now 'good cheere' and 'welcome', and 'God be with you' and 'I thanke you'. And against the new yeare provide for the presents. The Lord of Mis-Rule is no meane man for his time, and the ghests of the High Table must lacke no Wine. The lusty bloods must looke about them like men, and piping and dauncing puts away much melancholy. Stolen Venison is sweet, and a fat Coney is worth money. Pitfalles are now set for small Birdes, and a Woodcocke hangs himselfe in a gynne. A good fire heats all the house, and a full Almesbasket makes the Beggars Prayers. The Masters and the Mummers make the merry sport; but if they lose their money, their Drumme goes dead. Swearers and Swaggerers are sent away to the Alehouse, and unruly Wenches goe in danger of Judgment. Musicians now make their Instruments speake out, and a good song is worth the hearing. In summe, it is a holy time, a duty in Christians, for the remembrance of Christ, and custome among friends, for the maintenance of good fellowship. In briefe, I thus conclude of it, I hold it (Christmas) a memory of the Heaven's Love, and the world's peace, the myrth of the honest, and the meeting of the friendly.
from Fantastickes by Nicholas Breton (1626).