Friday, October 11, 2019

IV - Tudor Christmas - The Days of the Saints

    The 12 days of the Tudor's Christmas celebration were each associated with a Saint.

  • Day 2 - Feast of St Stephens, the saint of deacons, headaches, horses, coffin makers, and masons
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  • Day 3 - Feast of St John, the apostle 
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  • Day 4 - Feast of the Holy Innocents

  • Day 5-Feast St Thomas Becket (the Arch Bishop of Cantebury who was murdered on Christmas Day)

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  • Even though Day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas is The Feast of St Thomas,  St. Thomas’s Day on the church catholic calendar is December 21. So the 21st was also celebrated as St Thomas' Day. On this day the poor appealed to those more fortunate for charity. They were referred to as 'Thomases'. Those more fortunate prepared for the day of 'Thomasing' with bowls of prepared food to share when the ‘Thomases’ called.

  • Day 6 - Feast of St Egwin of Worcester, saint of Orphans and Widows
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  • Day 7 (New Years Eve) Pope Sylvester (one of the earliest popes)
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  • Day 8 Mary, the Virgin Mother
  • Day 9 Feast of St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nazianzen
  • Day 10 Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
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  • Day 11 Feast St Simon Stylites (who lived on top of a pillar for 37 years)
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  • Day 12 The Epiphany, the day the 3 wise men finally arrived in Bethlehem to see the Christ Child.
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Within the celebration of the Tudor Christmas and the tradition of the 'reversal of roles', there was the 'Feast of Fools' that was held on January 1st. It was the one day Christian morals were abandoned. In their place, common people were allowed to make paradies of the church and its rituals. The name comes from the idea that the 'Fools' (the common people) were allowed to mock the church and its rituals.

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As part of this, a young boy was chosen as the mock 'Bishop' or ‘Pope’, called the 'King of Misrule'. He would dress as the Bishop and perform church services. During these services men would run and frolic about in the church and even do such irrelevant things as play dice on the alter. They would yell “Hee Haw” instead of “Amen”. Also, during this feast men dressed in women’s clothing, wore animal masks, sang bawdy songs, and drank copious quantities.  Men would run amuck through the streets and on carts giving indecent gestures. 
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