Date: Mon Nov 25, 2002 10:47 pm
Subject: Links: 12th Night, Medieval Christmas, Hanukkah and Saturnalia

click here
Hallo everyone. It seems I can't help being up to no good again , despite
the new job. :) Here, for your surfing pleasure over the Thanksgiving
holiday, is a great deal of information on Medieval Christmas, Hanukkah,
Saturnalia, and related celebrations. As always I make no claims as to the
veracity of the sites and their content. You get what you pay for.

I hope you enjoy it in the spirit intended, and please feel free to share
these links wherever they will find an appreciative audience. My apologies
in advance to those who do not celebrate such holidays: May you find some
time to snog with your loved ones, regardless :)

And though it's a tad early,

A tout mes amis, Joyeaux Noel,


A Megillah for Hanukkah
(Site Excerpt) Although Hanukkah was established in order to commemorate a
momentous exploit in Jewish history, the traditional documents of Jewish
religious literature do not really say much about the historical events that
are being celebrated. The Maccabean revolt occurred too late to be recorded
in the Bible; and the Talmud and Midrash speak only in vague terms of the
Hasmonean triumph over the Greeks, the purification of the Temple, some
cases of martyrdom, and the famous miracle of the oil cruse.

Medieval Holidays: Hanukkah (a portion of a Thinkquest essay)

12th Night: A Motley Medley by Stephanie Chidester
(Site Excerpt) Shakespeare seems preoccupied with madness and folly in
Twelfth Night. The word "fool" and its variants ("foolery," "foolish," and
so forth) appear eighty times in the play, and the word "folly" occurs seven
times. There are, in addition, other means of indicating foolishness such as
Maria's "Now, sir, thought is free" (1.3.67). As Feste suggests, "Foolery
... does walk about the orb like the sun; it shines everywhere" (3.1.39-40).

Medieval Festivals and Holidays: January: 12th Night
(Site Excerpt) This was the end of the Christmas 12 day celebration.
Celebrated on the night of the fifth day of January 5th. Spiced cider is
enjoyed while Wassailing the Trees to assure a warm spring and the Oxhorn
Dance brings good luck. The revelers are called mummers and they perform
short contest plays. St. George versus the Dragon, Battles between good and
bad, and the Three kings that outsmart a wicked King Herod to visit the
Christ child. It is this visit of these wise men that give this holiday it's
Christian name of Epiphany Eve.

12th Night: An Elizabethan Supper
(Site Excerpt) Another of our picnic meals at St. Joseph's Castle, with no
cooking facilities. This meal was designed as a light, cold supper, which is
pretty appropriate to Cape Town in January... it all came out of ice-boxes
onto a long trestle table under the trees. Very civilised.

Florilegium 12th Night Articles
(Excerpt from first message) >twelfth night customs ......
Well, it is apparently the last day on which you can serve the roasted
boar's head. The last verse of the carol reads:
The boar's head, I dare well say,
Anon upon the twelveth day,
He takyth his leave and goeth away,
Exivit tunc de patria. [He has left the country.]
You can be visited by people representing the Three Kings who pass out
goodies (or lumps of coal).
You can pass around a fruit (or other) cake in which is baked a single
bean (or coin, or ...). Whoever gets the token is Lord of Misrule and
gets to sit on the King's throne and act silly.'s Tales of the Middle Ages: Christmas
(Site Excerpt)Our word Christmas is derived from the Middle English usage
"Christ's Mass," and central to the celebration of the Nativity was the
liturgical activity which had been established by the year 600, and did not
change in the Middle Ages. In Medieval England there were, in fact, three
Masses celebrated on Christmas Day.

Medieval Christmas
(Site Excerpt) The first recorded use of the word "Christmas" was in 1038
when a book from Saxon England used the words "Cristes Maesse" in it. Also
of note for Medieval England was the fact that William the Conqueror had
himself crowned king of England on Christmas Day 1066.

A Medieval Christmas
(Site Excerpt) Just exactly what Christmas was like depends not only on
where it was observed, but when. In late antiquity, Christmas was a quiet
and solemn occasion, marked by a special mass and calling for prayer and
reflection. Until the fourth century, no fixed date had been formally set by
the Church -- in some places it was observed in April or May, in others in
January and even in November.

Ludlow Castle Medieval Christmas Fayre
(Site Excerpt) Festoned with seasonal greenery, Ludlow will be bustling with
medieval jesters, minstrels and traders - truly a feast for all the senses

How to cook Medieval Christmas Feasts (
(Site Excerpt) Simply put, there were not as many Christmas-specific foods
as there are now; mankind feasted heartily, but on foods and recipes that
also were available and popular during the rest of the year - these were
produced in finer quality and eaten in greater amounts at this time, but
there was not a specific and detailed menu on what should or should not be
eaten at Christmas.

Recipe Source: Medieval Christmas Dinner
(Site Excerpt: Menu) Old English Sherry Cheese
Merrie Crown Roast of Pork
Savory Rice Stuffing
Lady Apple Fruit Wreath
Duchess Potato Puffs
Carrots & Grapes Vermouth
Herbed Green Beans
Royal Toast Triangles
Cran-Brandy Pudding &
Golden Toffee Sauce
Claret Cup
-----EXTRA TREAT-----

On Christmas in the Middle Ages by Nicolaa de Bracton of Leicester
(Site Excerpt) Until the late Middle Ages, the celebration of Christmas Day
ranked fairly low among the major festivals of the Christian world. Twelfth
Night celebrations far surpassed the rather solemn, low key observance of
the birth of Christ, while more festive Yule celebrations (originally a
pagan observance) persisted into the Christian era. However, beginning with
the rise of the cult of the Virgin Mary in the twelfth century, a trend can
be discerned away from the importance of local saints and towards emphasis
on the major figures of the Church, especially on the Holy Family.

"Nova Stella: a medieval Italian Christmas (sound recording of a radio
(Site Excerpt of script) Christmas, 1223 ... a hermit's cave in Italy. The
torchlight revealed a Nativity scene, complete with the manger crib, and
actors playing the roles of all the participants, including the ox and ass.
Among those present was St. Francis of Assisi, who planned the whole event
in order to see "with human eyes" the scene as it was at Christ's birth: the
hay, the candlelight, the animals, the manger. Thomas of Celano, in his
famous chronicle of Francis' life, speaks of the scene as "a new Bethlehem."
The surrounding woods, says Thomas, "rang out with holy songs."

Kemper Crabb--Lyrics to Medieval Xmas Carols

Christmas in the Middle Ages
(Site Excerpt: BRIEF article) The religious observance of Christmas in the
Middle Ages was accompanied by different events: tropes, liturgical dramas
or mysteries and Christmas carols, which eventually developed into modern

Medieval and Tudor Christmas Courts
(Site Excerpt) If there was one time of year that an English sovereign could
count on being surrounded with all the trimmings and trappings of "fondness"
and "friendship" - however forced they might be - it was during the Twelve
Days of Christmas, which stretched from December 25 through Epiphany (or
Twelfth Night) on January 6.

Sacaea-Saturnalia: History of the Christmas Holiday
(Site Excerpt) Four thousand years ago or so, ancient Egyptians celebrated
the rebirth of the sun at this time of year. They set the length of the
festival at 12 days, to reflect the 12 divisions in their sun calendar. They
decorated with greenery, using palms with 12 shoots as a symbol of the
completed year, since a palm was thought to put forth a shoot each month.
Sun-worshipping Egyptians had the idea. Sacaea was the Persian version. The
annual renewal festival of the Babylonians was adopted by the Persians. One
of the themes of these festivals was the temporary subversion of order.
Masters and slaves exchanged places. A mock king was crowned. Masquerades
spilled into the streets. As the old year died, rules of ordinary living
were relaxed.

Christmas Music from Medieval England (to purchase)

Medieval Gift Ideas

A Medieval Spanish Christmas
(Site Excerpt) On Christmas Eve in medieval Spanish churches a priest would
dress up as a crazy old woman, a Greek sybil, who would prophesy the coming
of Christ, sometimes singing a version of the Iudcii Signum translated into
Latin in the 5th century AD by Augustine: (note that on the site lyrics