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Archive for January, 2011

Christmas decorations, in days gone by, would have been of holy and ivy rather than the glittery tinsel of today. They were always removed on the Twelfth Night which falls on December 5th.

Folk thought that tree-spirits dwelt within this greenery and they were brought in to keep them warm and dry during the cold Christmas days. However, come Twelfth Night they were taken down and placed outside again lest they take advantage of this hospitality and get up to any mischief in the house.

On Twelfth Night a cake was baked and eaten. A bean was surreptitiously placed in the cake and anyone lucky enough to get a slice with a bean in it was entitled to be treated as a king or queen for the day but not a moment longer!

Wassailing is a village tradition where much hot mulled punch is drunk amidst raucous singing and dancing. The idea, apart from having as much fun as possible, is to awaken the cider trees and scare away any nasty spirits that might want to harm the autumn harvest. Our predecessors seemed to have much more stamina when it came to partying; most modern-day folk are exhausted by Boxing Day.

The Yule log that was placed at the back of the hearth and allowed to smoulder through the Christmas festivities was now burned up in a blaze of glory. Good fortune and a bountiful harvest were bound to follow.

Epiphany falls on January 6th although I believe it is celebrated in the USA on the first Sunday of the month..This Christian festival celebrates the day when the Three Wise Kings from the East arrived bearing gifts for the new-born babe, Christ Jesus. He was born in obscurity in a stable but on this day he was revealed to the world.

For more information regarding this confusion over the dates and timings of Twelfth Night and Epiphany I can only refer you to this site here who understand these things far more than I ever will.

Oh, and I think that Twelfth Night is also a play written by an up-and-coming young playwright called William. I have never seen the play but some folks reckon it is quite good…

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