Slow Yule Part 2 – Pre-Reformation Celebrations

12daysofchristmas-main_fullWell, my apologies for not getting the next part up until today. 

Last time I was talking about how Christmas really went pear-shaped around the time of the reformation and the rot continued to set in until today it is little more than a celebration of consumerism (again, I repeat, I am not totally against consumerism, I like nice stuff, it’s all about balance, I promise to write a quick entry on that very soon).

Now, I don’t want to descend into a lecture about the origins of Christmas, was it a Christian festival? Is it an ancient Pagan one? That is all a little murky and no one really knows.

The fact is that we are going to celebrate it. And in my humble opinion, the old Pre-Reformation celebrations were much more “Slow” than our current celebrations.

And to be fair, a lot of the things I am going to talk about are still done in some places of the world or have only declined quite recently. So I am not necessary going all misty eyed for a “Merry England” Arcadia…

(Although I often go all misty eyed about the idea of a Merry England Arcadia. But that, again is for another post…)

The idea here is to introduce (or re-introduce) you to some choice Pre-Reformation Celebrations that you may find will add to or replace what you are doing now and reduce you Christmas stress!

Firstly, lets look at the length of the celebrations. Forget the stingy 2 (or if you are lucky 3) day holiday we are used to. That really came into effect in the Victorian era and was a side effect of the increasing industrialisation and urbanisation. It was to encourage productivity and it was difficult to generate the community spirit in the now sprawling cities, so the festival started to focus more on just the immediate family.

I am sure you are all aware of the song “12 Days of Christmas’”…

“Fiiiiiiiiiiivvvveeeee Gooooooolllllldddd Riiiiiinnnnggssss….” And all that.

We that was because Christmas would last 12 whole days! It would start on the 25th December and finish on the 6th January (12th Night). Originally Christmas Day was celebrated on January 6 when presents were given in honour of St.Nicholas.

It was a time of merriment, feasting and general festivity (but still a holy day, with 3 masses on 25th December to start the ball rolling), with plays, processions and merry-making. It was not the family orientated affair.

Now I am not saying you have to celebrate the whole 12 days really But the idea is to recognise that you can pace yourself a little, it is not about that mad rush to fit it all into the 2 or 3 days that we have and then feel a bit lost until New Year…


PS, Yes, I am posting on a Saturday. It is because I have had a few technical difficulties in posting this week…