Monday, January 05, 2009

Twelfth Night


Now Christmas is past, Twelfth Night is the last
To the Old Year adieu, Great joy to the new

A nice write-up on the traditions associated with Twelfth Night:

This twelfth night of the twelve days of Christmas is the official end of the winter holiday season and one of the traditional days for taking down the Christmas decorations (see also January 13 and February 1). This is also a traditional day for wassailing apple trees. In southern and western England, revelers gathered in orchards where they sang to the trees, drank to their health, poured hot cider over their roots, left cider-soaked toast in their branches for the birds and scared away evil spirits with a great shout and the firing of guns.

The ancient Roman tradition of choosing the master of the Saturnalian revels by baking a good luck bean inside a cake was transferred to Twelfth Night. In Italy, the beans were hidden in focaccia rather than a cake: three white beans for the Magi and one black one. Whoever found the black bean was made king and could choose his queen and rule the banquet. In colonial Virginia, a great Ball was held on this night. The King wins the honor of sponsoring the Ball the following year; the Queen the privilege of making next year’s Twelfth Night Cake.


Twelfth Night: Or King and Queen

Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where bean's the king of the sport here;
Beside we must know,
The pea also
Must revel, as queen, in the court here.

Begin then to choose,
This night as ye use,
Who shall for the present delight here,
Be a king by the lot,
And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day queen for the night here.

Which known, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
Who unurg'd will not drink
To the base from the brink
A health to the king and queen here.

Next crown a bowl full
With gentle lamb's wool:
Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of ale too;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.

Give then to the king
And queen wassailing:
And though with ale ye be whet here,
Yet part from hence
As free from offence
As when ye innocent met here.

~ Robert Herrick
[More]

Links:
http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/twelfthnight.html
http://www.annieshomepage.com/twelfthnight.html
http://www.thelionspart.co.uk/twelfthnight/
http://www.fisheaters.com/epiphanyeve.html
http://historiccamdencounty.com/ccnews93.shtml
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/index.cfm?action=list&filter=seasons&id=2
http://miltonmorris.org.uk/twelfthnight/twelfth.htm
http://www.answerpoint.org/columns2.asp?column_id=661&column_type=feature
http://www.novareinna.com/festive/twelfth.html

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