Twelfth Night Ends The 12 Days Of Christmas

Posted by Ruth Weston on

Twelfth Night ends the 12 Days of Christmas... I can hear you humming it now...

And refers in Christian calendars to the 12th night following Christmas and the birth of the Christ child, traditionally viewed as the time it took the Magi or Wise man to reach the Christ Child.

 In non Christian England, the traditions were instead related to the solstice, and in the early church, after 12 days of prayer, good deeds and charity, the 12th Night was viewed as an end to restraint.

The above boar's head tureen from the 1770s made by the Chelsea Pottery in England, was probably made for use during 12th Night... immortalized by Shakespeare in his play.

 Revels and theatricals were part of the day.

 also a part of the festivities were costumes, assigning of roles to play, masks and the appointing of The Lord Of Misrule who's commands had to be obeyed.

Needless to say, there was much spirits and license, and many were appalled by what occurred, really in contrast to a religious observance.

Often roles were reversed... servants becoming gentry and gentry becoming servants, or parents being subject to children for the day or evening.

 The above is an engraving of the Lord Of Misrule at the Crystal Palace in London during the reign of Queen Victoria

 Games were played in Regency and Victorian parlors like Snapdragon above... snatching raisins from a basin of flaming brandy and hopefully not burning fingers to badly.

And the Yule log, brought in on Christmas eve, needed to stay lit until Twelfth Night to insure good luck for the family.


Another was Bullet Pudding, but I couldn't find an illustration of that. It consisted of a mound of flour with a bullet on top. Players cut away a slice of flour with a knife until one player's cut dislodged the bullet. Then that player had to grasp the bullet from the flour with their teeth...and a much floured face... to earn the prize.

Twelfth Night cakes were and are very decorative and reflect the 3 Kings...

The above is from the National Trust and is an exact replica used in a Tudor kitchen

 So wishing you a wonderful Twelfth Night or Epiphany.

With all the lights and decorations put away, it will certainly be dimmer and lack sparkle around here for awhile!

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