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12th-nite-msg - 1/29/01


Medieval 12th Night celebrations.


NOTE: See also the files: holidays-msg, Yule-msg, wassail-msg, Holiday-Celeb-lnks, holiday-gifts-lnks, Spring-Celeb-lnks, Candlemas-msg, Christmas-art, Xmas-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: dorothy at cogsci.berkeley.edu (Dorothy Heydt)

Date: 8 Dec 89 17:25:38 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


("Eleanor J. Evans  at  462-5330") writes:

>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.  One year my Lord Husband

got the bean and spent part of the evening having all the Heralds act

out all the heraldic positions: a herald rampant, a herald passant guardant,

a herald salient, etc., etc...


Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin




Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 10:15:00 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Redaction class on-line


Recipes and commentary will be provided after I run my test batches, as

I did with the Galette Persane.  The recipes I'm working with are

modern, but they are simple festive breads such as might have been done

in period.  


The Galette de Dame Carcas celebrates the lifting of Charlemange's siege

of Carcassonne and is a Twelfth Night bread.  The pepper cakes appear

medieval in their spicing.  





Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 06:44:44 -0600

From: L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt <liontamr at ptd.net>

Subject: SC - Wassail traditions


A copy of an excellent reply from a very nice lady too shy to post to the



>Here's the section on wassail from a paper I'm writing for the local

>baronial newsletter's A&S edition:


>Another variation on the king-for-a-day is an English Twelfth Night  

>custom that was documented in the mid-nineteenth century in

>Devonshire.  On Twelfth Night, the farmers would get their weapons,

>gather around the oldest tree in the apple orchard, and sing a short



>Here's to thee, old apple tree

>Whence thou mayst bud and whence thou mayst blow

>And whence thou mayst bear apples enow:

>Hats full, caps full,  

>Bushels, bushels, sacks full,

>And my pockets full too!


>The men would then fire their weapons at the tree. They returned

>to the home and would be denied entrance no matter what the weather

>by the women indoors.  When one of the men guessed what sort of

>roast that was being prepared for them, all were let in.  The one

>who guessed the roast was named "King for the Evening" and

>presided over the party until the wee hours.


>This custom of "wassailing" the apple tree is still done in the west

>country in England, and has been done for centuries. The word

>"wassail" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "ws hl," meaning "be whole" or

>"good health."  This custom dates from a medieval story, of a Saxon

>lady named Rowena who presented Prince Vortigen with a bowl of wine,

>toasting him with the words "ws hl."  Over the centuries a great

>deal of ceremony had developed around the custom of drinking wassail.

> The bowl is carried into a room with great fanfare, a traditional

>carol about the drink is sung, and finally, the steaming hot beverage

>is served.  


>Karen Larsdatter

>  Barony of Ponte Alto, Atlantia





From: tadhg at bigfoot.com (Dr Tiomoid M. of Angle)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Info needed

Organization: EDS

Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 02:56:32 GMT


Scripsit Andrea Hicks <maridonna at worldnet.att.net> :

> What is 12th Night and what is the history behind it?


Twelfth Night is the Feast of the Epiphany, a fine Greek term referring to

the point where a god traveling among men makes himself (or herself)

manifest, the manifestation in this case being of the infant Christ to the

Three Wise Men. The Twelve Days of Christmas refers to the period between

Christmas and Epiphany; prior to modern times it was customary for gifts to

be given on Epiphany rather than Christmas itself, in commemoration of the

gifts presented by the aforesaid Three.


(Pedantic note: The given name "Tiffany" comes through a very roundabout

route from "Epiphany" and appears to have been originally given to girls

born on or about that date; it is a Certified Medieval Name, much to the

distress of myself and all of the other Period Flavorists, dating in

England to the mid-14th century.)


I'm sure there's a Society publication somewhere that explains all of this

in a much less interesting fashion.


Fra Tadhg Liath OFT                                           tadhg at bigfoot.com

The Grumpiest Pelican



Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 2:03:31 -0500

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

Subject: re: Info needed

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


<Andrea Hicks <maridonna at worldnet.att.net>>

>What is 12th Night and what is the history behind it?


As has been mentioned elsewhere, "Twelfthnight" is the evening of

"Twelfthday", the twelfth day of Christmas, Epifania domini nostri

Ihesu Christi, Epiphany, the Recognition of Jesus by the Three Kings.

In the Middle Ages it was celebrated by a major religious service

sometimes marked by suspending a large "Star of Bethlehem" from the

Rood Loft or "in the Body of the Church".  This service was followed

by much celebration, masques, revelry and gift giving.  It was the

last of the merry-making before the beginning of the preparation for

the plowing.  Some of the revelry included a "Bean King", "Christmas

King" or "Lord of Misrule", determined by a bean or coin in a cake.

There is some thought that this all was a holdover from the ancient

Roman celebration of "Saturnalia", but that's somewhat debateable.





Date: Sun, 8 Nov 1998 20:18:26 EST

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Tablecloths and Christmas feasts


oftraquair at hotmail.com writes:

<< Twelfth Night has become an SCA-holiday because....<snip>...... >>


This is one area of the SCA where I am happy that things are being done

more perio-like. :-)


One custom of 12th Night that we,  in the current MA have relegated to

Christmas but which was originally an Epiphany custom is the habit of gift

giving. Traditionally small gifts of sweets were given to children at that

time of year.





Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 01:16:57 EST

From: CBlackwill at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - saffron


troy at asan.com writes:

>  The galatte du roi or Twelfth Night Cake is traditionally assumed to be,

>  but is not documented, as period, AFAIK. It often includes a gold coin,

>  more or less for similar reasons.


>  Adamantius


Twelfth Night Cake was often stuffed with a number of things, ranging from a

gold coin, a bean or a little figurine of a baby.  It was supposed to

represent the baby Jesus, and the lucky diner who got the slice with the

"secret toy surprize" was declared King of the Feast.


Balthazar of Blackmoor


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org