Holiday-Celeb-lnks – 12/23/04
A set of web links to information on medieval holiday celebrations by Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon.
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).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: aoife at scatoday.net
Subject: [Aoife-Links] Medieval Holiday Celebrations
Date: December 22, 2004 9:02:06 PM CST
To: aoife-links at scatoday.net
Greetings my faithful readers!
This week's links list is on Holiday celebrations. PLEASE share wherever an
interest can be found, and no matter what your holiday, enjoy it!
Dame Aoife Finn CL, CP
History Learning Site--Medieval Christmas Traditions
(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.
Medieval and Tudor Christmas Courts
(Site Excerpt) A.A. Milne's popular children's poem, "King John", portrays
the friendless king on the eve of a lonely Christmas, reduced to displaying
tattered greeting cards from seasons past and wondering if, alas, he might
count on receiving even one measly present this year. A fitting way for one
of history's most villainous monarchs to spend the holidays . . . but
historically, highly inaccurate. 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.
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.
Gode Cookery's Tales of the Middle Ages: Christmas
(Site Excerpt) Also important in the celebration of Christmas was the
banquet, which necessarily varied in sumptuosness with the resources of the
celebrants. The menu varied with soups and stews, birds and fish, breads and
puddings, but a common element was the Yule boar, an animal for those who
could afford it or a pie shaped like a boar for more humble tables.
(Click Celebrations to the left, then Yule to the right. Site Excerpt from
one message): A celebration of the winter solstice has been held since time
immemorial in the Northern Hemisphere. Through the ages, the festival has
had many names. It is certain that a mid-winter festival called Yule was
celebrated in the Nordic countries well
before the year 1000. Though challenged by some scholars, the fact that
(Jo'l) was celebrated in Iceland and throughout the Northern Hemisphere well
before the advent of Christianity is now widely accepted. The exact date, or
dates, that Yule was celebrated is not certain, but probably it was
connected to the full moon
nearest to the winter solstice.
Christmas Carol Midis
20 downloadable Medieval Carol Midis, with ratings. I was able to listen
without anything special on my computer (window media player worked just
fine, though the midis are a bit short..
About.com: Christmas Coronations
(Site Excerpt) According to his biographer and friend, Einhard, Charlemagne
was taken by surprise when Pope Leo III popped the crown on his head during
mass and proclaimed him Emperor. In fact, he was reportedly so angry that he
told Einhard he'd never have shown up at church that day if he'd known what
Leo had planned, even though the Christmas mass was a particularly holy
(Site Excerpt)Those Romans knew how to party. The Egyptian and Persian
traditions merged in ancient Rome, in a festival to the ancient god of
seed-time, Saturn. The people gave themselves up to wild joy. They feasted,
they gave gifts, they decorated their homes with greenery. The usual order
of the year was suspended: grudges and quarrels forgotten; wars interrupted
or postponed. Businesses, courts, schools closed. Rich and poor were equal,
slaves were served by masters, children headed the family. Cross-dressing
and masquerades, merriment of all kinds prevailed. A mock king -- the Lord
of Misrule -- was crowned. Candles and lamps chased away the spirits of
darkness. As Roman culture became more licentious, so did Saturnalia. You
can well imagine...
A Medieval Spanish Christmas: Nativity through Epiphany
(Site Excerpt--note there are midi file son this page) 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
How to Cook Medieval--Christmas Feasts
(Site Excerpt) There are some food rules to remember when composing an
authentic medieval feast; as the days leading up to Christmas were the fast,
or fish-days of Advent, fish was eaten in great quantities up to and
including Christmas Eve. (This, therefore, usually meant that fish was not
considered an appropriate food for the post-Advent Christmas period; one
would be considered a poor or offensive host to offer fish for a Christmas
meal!) The practice of serving fish up until Christmas Day survives
enthusiastically today as the modern Italian-American tradition of a large
and extravagant Christmas Eve seafood dinner.
The Santa Clause Time-line
Trace how Santa changed through the ages, beginning in 9th century Saxony.
The Cronological History of the Christmas Tree
(Site Excerpt) Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir
Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had
previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung,
upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol
Because They Weere Included in the Miracle: Medieval Hanukkah (Women's role
in the celebration)
(Site Excerpt) Several medieval commentators supplement Rashi's words with
additional details. R. Nissim of Gerona, citing a "midrash," states that the
daughter of Johanan the Hasmonean fed cheese to an enemy general in order to
make him drowsy, whereupon she proceeded to cut off his head, thereby
allowing her companions to flee to safety. He notes that this was the origin
of the custom of eating cheese on Hanukkah. Rashi's grandson Rabbi Samuel
ben Meir (Rashbam) identifies the heroine of the story as Judith.
Stefan's Florilegium: Medieval 12th Night celebrations
(Site Excerpt from one message) 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.]
Heronter: Medieval Winter Holidays (scroll down a bit)
Long list of links, many of which appeared in past holiday Aoife's Links
Eid al Fitr
Links to images of the Magi
Altramar: "Nova Stella:
a medieval Italian Christmas"
(Site Excerpt) Program summary: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."
Kittensinunderpants.com's Amanda's Medieval Christmas--Step-by-step
Some good advice and some very funny advice--apply at your own risk!(Site
Carol singers going from house to house now is as a result of carols being
banned within churches in Medieval times. Carol singers in Medieval times
took the word "carol" literally - it means to sing and dance in a circle. So
many Xmas services were spoiled by carol signers doing just this, that the
Church at the time banned them and ordered the carol singers into the
street. Music is essential, and whilst we all like Slade, Wizzard and Band
Aid, I'm afraid that we'll have to eschew them in favour of some truly
Medieval (yet equally festive) fare.
Part 1 of 3 - History of the Cr¸che
(Site Excerpt) One thing we know for certain is that the popularity of the
Nativity scene did not occur until after St. Francis reenacted what many
believe was the first living Nativity. St. Francis asked for and got
permission from Pope Honorius III to hold a special celebration during
Christmas. With the help of Giovanni Velita they prepared for this special
celebration which would take place on Christmas Eve in 1223 at the monastery
at Greccio. On that faithful night a child was placed in a crib as an ox and
donkey stood nearby. Those who came to watch got to witness for themselves
the miracle that occurred 1,223 years ago in the small town of Bethlehem.
Where did the tradition of exchanging Christmas gifts start?
(Site Excerpt) We have many recorded events in history that show the giving
and receiving of gifts dates back at least to the 4th century. St. Nicholas,
a Christian Bishop, was known for his generosity in giving to those less
fortunate than he, as well as giving to children of all backgrounds simply
because he felt they needed to savor their childhood, and have joyous times
to remember ...
If you wish to correspond with Aoife directly, please send mail to: mtnlion
at ptd dot net as she is unable to respond in this account