Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Winter Traditions and Holidays Part 13 - Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas (Christian 25/26 December – 5/6 January)

  • festive Christian season to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
  • In England in the Middle Ages, this period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, which climaxed on Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas season.
  • Often a Lord of Misrule was chosen to lead the Christmas revels.
    • They were an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools.
    • They were to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying, in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia.
    • Like Saturnalia, during this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. History
    • In AD 400, the bishop Asterius of Amasea preached a sermon against the feast which included children going door to door to exchange gifts for reward as it taught them to be greedy and concerned with commercialism.
    • It contrasted with the Christian celebration held, not by chance, on the adjoining day celebrates the Feast of Lights (Epiphany), “since by the forgiveness of our sins we are led forth from the dark prison of our former life into a life of light and uprightness.”
    • Honest farmers coming into the city were likely to be jeered at, spanked and robbed.
  • A special cake, the king cake, was also baked then for Epiphany. The cake often has a small plastic baby or bean (to represent the Baby Jesus) inside; and the person who gets the piece of cake with it may be the King or Queen of the night and have responsibility to buy the next cake.
  • For some, Twelfth Night is the last day for decorations to be taken down, and it is held to be bad luck to leave decorations up after this.

No comments:

Post a Comment