Thursday, January 04, 2018

Twelfth Day of Christmas: Swap Clothes for the Misrule is Here!!



Today is a great day for a party and the rules call for frivolity, cross-dressing and wonderful recipes for food and drink. It is the day to rediscover "Wassailing and Mumming".

At the start of Twelfth Night the Twelfth Night cake was eaten. This was a rich cake made with eggs and butter, fruit, nuts and spices. The modern Italian Panettone is the cake we currently have that's most like the old Twelfth Night cake.
A dried pea or bean was cooked in the cake. Whoever found it was the Lord (or Lady) of Misrule for night. The Lord of Misrule led the celebrations and was dressed like a King (or Queen). This tradition goes back to the Roman celebrations of Saturnalia. In later times, from about the Georgian period onwards, to make the Twelfth Night 'gentile', two tokens were put in the cake (one for a man and one for a women) and whoever found them became the the 'King' and 'Queen' of the Twelfth Night party.
In English Cathedrals, during the middle ages, there was the custom of the 'Boy Bishop' where a boy from the Cathedral or monastery school was elected as a Bishop on 6th December (St Nicholas's Day) and had the authority of a Bishop (except to perform Mass) until 28th December. King Henry VIII banned the practice in 1542 although it came back briefly under Mary I in 1552 but Elizabeth I finally stopped it during her reign.We keep this a remnant of tradition alive in Australia with the current Catholic Archbishop of Sydney affectionately known as "Boy George".

It's a busy day as it's time to take down your Christmas decorations and install those missing three kings to the Nativity set at least for the day. When you have completed your Christmas duties and feasted with great gusto you will probably be ready to sit back and watch the midnight  hour approach with a good dose of Shapesperean comedy:




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