Monday, January 7, 2008

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas....

...Twelfth Night!

The Christian celebration of Epiphany, the climax of the Advent and Christmas season, and is held on the evening of January 6th. Also known as Three Kings Day, as it assumed that this was when the Three Wise Men, or the Magi, arrived in Bethlehem after following the star that led them to the baby Jesus. It is the beginning of Mardis Gras.
A high feast day on the medieaval calendar, with a difference; it incorporated the feast of Fools and several customs as the appointing of the Lord of Misrule, the Yule Log, caroling, the Wassail Bowl and as such was an occasion of hijinks and hilarity, things inside out and upside is thought to have taken all this from the Roman feast of Saturnalia. It was big blow out that let everyone kick up their heels one last time before hunkering down to shiver their way through the rest of the winter, which might be hard times indeed.

From " The Sword in the Stone", by T.H.White:

"It was Christmas night and all the proper things had been done. The whole village had come to dinner in the hall. There had been boar's head and venison and pork and beef and mutton and capons; but no turkey, on account of this bird not having been invented yet. There had been plum pudding and snap dragon, with blue fire on the tips of one's fingers, and as much mead as anynbody could drink. Sir Ector's health had been drunk with 'Best respects, Measter' and 'Best compliments of the season, my lords and ladies'. There had been mummers to play an exciting dramatic presentation of St. George and a saracen and a funny doctor did some surprising things, also carol singers who rendered 'Adeste Fidelis' and 'I Sing of A Maiden' in high, clear tones. After that, those children who had not been sick over their dinner played Hoodman Blind and other games, while the young men and maidens danced Morris dances, the tables having been cleared away. The old folk sat round the walls holding glasses of mead in their hands and feeling thankful that they were past all such capers, hoppings and skippings, while those children who had been sick sat with them, and soon went to sleep, the small heads leaning against their shoulders. At the high table sat Sir Ector with his knightly guests, who had come for the morrow's hunting, smiling and nodding and drinking burgundy or sherry sack or malmsey wine."

Now that's Christmas.