I think it’s fair to say that 2016 has been a tumultuous year all round. I don’t really talk about current affairs, assuming that those who are here are here for the Shakespeare (and possibly my own idiosyncratic take on it – but mostly for the Shakespeare). But I don’t think anyone can let such a year go by without noting its passing. Which (as you might expect) will be done mostly through the medium of Shakespeare blogposts.
OK so apart from the title link this isn’t Shakespeare related, but this is something which has been bugging me and putting it down here gives me something to link to.
Today is not the 12th Day of Christmas. Today is the 12th of December. they are not the same thing.
I suspect this may be a corporate tool to sell more stuff before Christmas. But. We don’t have to allow the profit-seekers to pervert facts for their own agenda, do we?
So the actual Twelve Days of Christmas are the twelve days starting on Christmas Day (25th December) and ending the day before Epiphany (6th January), the feast for the arrival of the Magi. All twelve of these days are Saints Days, so according to Church tradition fasting was not allowed. Twelve continuous days of feasting was naturally a cause for celebration!
In England, many traditions built up around the period – mostly with non-Christian undertones, such as choosing a Lord of Misrule or burning a Yule Log. Carols were sung – the first collection was published by Wynken de Worde in 1521. And yes, by the end of the 12 days monarchs were probably as sick of their families as the rest of us and a nice new play by William Shakespeare was exactly what they wanted…
But the important thing is all of this happens after Christmas, not before. Right now we are in Advent, the time of waiting before Christmas. So get your calendars out, light the candles, but give those poor Lords a break before they have to start dancing…
The flipside to my recent piece on forgeries is missing Shakespeare plays – rather than plays we have which we know aren’t Shakespeare, these are the plays we know are Shakespeare but which we don’t have.