Medieval Christmas 09


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Medieval Christmas 09

  1. 1. A Medieval Christmas Presented by : The Barony of Castel Rouge 2009
  2. 2. “… and now it draweth fast unto Christmas, on which time every true Christian man should be merry, jocund and glad.” Letter from a monk to John Paston, 1460s
  3. 3. Welcome to the Current Middle Ages! <ul><li>Today we’ll have a quick tour of what Christmas would have been like from about 400AD-1600AD. </li></ul><ul><li>You’ll get to experience some of the sights, sounds & tastes of that time. </li></ul>
  4. 4. When did Christmas start? <ul><li>Began as an official celebration very early in Christian history, somewhere in the 300’s </li></ul><ul><li>Known originally as “Christ’s Mass” but……it was built on many non-Christian traditions </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Europe not fully Christianized until the late 700s/early 800s…& maybe later…. </li></ul><ul><li>Many old traditions carried on, & were deliberately encouraged by church fathers </li></ul><ul><li>“ if you can’t beat’em, join ‘em”…the new holiday combined Roman Saturnalia, Nordic Yule, & other solstice celebrations. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Saturnalia <ul><li>Marked by a week of feasting, drinking, giftgiving & good times </li></ul><ul><li>Reversal of roles – slaves were served by masters </li></ul><ul><li>When did it happen? December 17-25 </li></ul>
  7. 7. Yule <ul><li>Celebrated at midwinter solstice in northern Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Also a time of feasting & celebration </li></ul><ul><li>Boar’s head & wassail were traditional food/drink </li></ul>
  8. 8. Why December 25? <ul><li>All midwinter festivals happen at this time, because of winter solstice around Dec. 21 </li></ul><ul><li>Dec. 25 was also the date of the festival of Mithras, a Christ-like figure connected to sun-worship </li></ul><ul><li>Christianity took Dec. 25 as the high holy day </li></ul>
  9. 9. The 8 weeks of Christmas?? <ul><li>St. Martin’s Day Nov. 11 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Andrew’s Day Nov. 30 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Nicholas’ Day Dec. 5/6 </li></ul><ul><li>Immaculate Conception Dec. 8 </li></ul><ul><li>Santa Lucia Day Dec. 13 </li></ul><ul><li>Christmas Day Dec. 25 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Stephen’s Day Dec. 26 </li></ul><ul><li>St. John the Evangelist’s Day Dec. 27 </li></ul><ul><li>Holy Innocents’ Day Dec. 28 </li></ul><ul><li>St. Sylvester’s Day Dec. 31 </li></ul><ul><li>Feast of Circumcision Jan 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Epiphany/Twelfth Night Jan 6 </li></ul><ul><li>Candlemas Feb 2 </li></ul>
  10. 10. Christmas Symbols <ul><li>Much of our modern Christmas imagery started in the Middle Ages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Angels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Nativity Scene </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 Wise Men </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shepherds </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Angels & The Annunciation <ul><li>Annunciation was the beginning of the cycle of Christmas images </li></ul><ul><li>Angel announced to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus </li></ul>Russian, 1100s
  12. 12. French, 12 th century
  13. 13. Cavallini (Italian) 1291
  14. 14. English, 1300s Embroidered book cover
  15. 15. Robert Campin, Merode Altarpiece Netherlands, 1428
  16. 16. Botticelli 1490
  17. 17. The Nativity Scene 1st Known Scene of Mary with baby, 250 AD, Rome .
  18. 18. Italian, 1100s
  19. 19. French Psalter, 1250
  20. 20. Giotto (Italian) 1304
  21. 21. Fabriano (Italian) 1423
  22. 22. Robert Campin Netherlands, 1425/30
  23. 23. Gerard David, Netherlands, 1515
  24. 24. St. Francis & the Creche <ul><li>Similarity of appearance of Nativity scenes may be also be due to St. Francis of Assisi </li></ul><ul><li>He’s credited with the first creche/crib in 1223, although similar scenes seem to have been set up in churches beforehand </li></ul><ul><li>Many paintings, carvings, etc. used as teaching tools </li></ul>
  25. 25. The Three Wise Men Roman sarcophagus, 4 th century
  26. 26. Magi, Ravenna, 6 th Century
  27. 27. Giotto, 1304
  28. 28. Bouts, 1470 (Netherlands )
  29. 29. Leonardo da Vinci, 1481/82
  30. 30. Brueghel, 1564 Netherlands
  31. 31. Shepherds Chartres Cathedral 13 th century
  32. 32. De Lisle Psalter, England 1310
  33. 33. Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry 1412-16
  34. 34. Flemish, 1477
  35. 35. What about these symbols?
  36. 36. First Christmas Tree? <ul><li>Martin Luther often credited with first lighted tree in early 1500s </li></ul><ul><li>Riga, Latvia claims that they had the first tree in 1510 </li></ul><ul><li>Tree legends go back even further – in 8 th century St. Boniface chopped down an oak tree & a fir grew in its place </li></ul>
  37. 37. Christmas Greenery <ul><li>Evergreens were brought into the house from earliest times </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolizes life surviving through the winter </li></ul><ul><li>Holly, ivy & mistletoe = European evergreens </li></ul><ul><li>Yule log – symbol of life, kept burning for up to 12 days, used to relight next year’s fire </li></ul>
  38. 38. Who wrote this song? <ul><li>“ Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy. </li></ul><ul><li>Though winter blasts blow never so high, Green groweth the holly.” </li></ul>
  39. 39. Christmas, 1509
  40. 40. Why this date? <ul><li>First Christmas of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon as husband & wife/ King & Queen </li></ul><ul><li>1509 was at the end of the Middle Ages & beginning of the Renaissance – old ways still being practiced, not influenced yet by Reformation </li></ul><ul><li>Henry’s Christmases were famous for extravagance </li></ul>
  41. 41. What about everyone else? <ul><li>Most people were peasants & lived in villages </li></ul><ul><li>Farmed on a lord’s manor & had a small house & some land for themselves </li></ul><ul><li>By 1509, more people were living in towns & cities and working at trades, manufacturing </li></ul>
  42. 45. <ul><li>Christmas was a public religious festival, not the Victorian-style family-centred one we know today </li></ul><ul><li>Major state occasions were often timed to happen at Christmas </li></ul>
  43. 46. <ul><li>Little work got done during the traditional 12 days of Christmas </li></ul><ul><li>Formulas exist for how much work to be done on feast-days </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of time for entertainment </li></ul>
  44. 47. <ul><li>&quot;...there were no disguisings [acting], nor harping, luting or singing, nor any lewd sports, but just playing at the tables [backgammon] and chess and cards. Such sports she gave her folk leave to play and no other.&quot; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lady Morley’s mourning Christmas, 1458 </li></ul></ul>How would you have celebrated?
  45. 48. Disguising, Masques & Plays
  46. 49. <ul><li>Also known as mumming or mummering </li></ul><ul><li>Still practiced in Newfoundland today between Christmas & Epiphany </li></ul><ul><li>Not too much known, but may have been related to the idea of reversal of roles: Feast of Fools, Jan 1, or midwinter solstice rites </li></ul>
  47. 50. <ul><li>Henry VIII was credited with bringing the masque to England </li></ul><ul><li>A disguised Henry VIII & retinue ambushed Katharine & ladies on their 1 st Christmas together </li></ul><ul><li>Masques continued to be a large part of court entertainment at Christmas </li></ul>
  48. 51. Mystery/Miracle plays <ul><li>Plays/pageants telling the story of the Nativity were popular </li></ul><ul><li>Performed outdoors by professional or semi-professional troupes </li></ul><ul><li>Complaints - tone down Herod’s massacre of innocents </li></ul>
  49. 52. Harping, Luting & Singing : Carols
  50. 53. <ul><li>Carols come down from pagan times </li></ul><ul><li>Were originally performed in a circle dance ( carole ) and were based on folk tunes </li></ul><ul><li>Later associated with the Christmas plays </li></ul>
  51. 54. <ul><li>Because of pagan overtones, were frowned upon by the church; were later banned in England by Puritans (1600s) </li></ul><ul><li>Earliest one said to have been written by St. Francis of Assisi, but prime time was 15 th & 16 th centuries </li></ul><ul><li>Henry VIII a big fan of carols – “Greensleeves” attributed to him, is also tune for “What Child is This.” </li></ul>
  52. 55. Medieval/Renaissance Carols We sing today <ul><li>Coventry Carol, 1591 </li></ul><ul><li>Wassail Song, pre-15 th century </li></ul><ul><li>Holly & Ivy, words pre-15 th century </li></ul><ul><li>What Child is this, music, 16 th century </li></ul><ul><li>Good King Wenceslas, music, 16 th century </li></ul><ul><li>12 Days of Christmas, 16 th century (code song for Catholics) </li></ul>
  53. 56. Lewd Sports? Katherine of Aragon watching Henry VIII joust, 1510/11
  54. 58. Ice skates from the 1170s are made of 'shinbones of cattle‘, found near London
  55. 62. Backgammon, chess, cards
  56. 63. <ul><li>“ ..also if ye be at home this Christmas, it were well done ye should do purvey a garnish or twain of pewter vessel, two basins and two ewers, and twelve candlesticks, for ye have too few of any of these to serve this place.” Letter from Margaret Paston to John Paston, 1460s </li></ul>Entertaining
  57. 64. Music & Dancing were very popular
  58. 65. Gift-giving <ul><li>Happened more among the rich </li></ul><ul><li>Symbol of an obligation between lord & master, lord & tenant – rents were due! </li></ul><ul><li>Gifts were given on Dec 5/6 (St. Nicholas day) or Jan 6 (12 th night/Epiphany) rather than on Christmas Day itself </li></ul>
  59. 66. A 16 th Century development: “ In Holland it was said that during the night of 5/6 December, the bearded Saint Nicholas and his white horse rode over the snow-covered roofs and threw presents through the chimneys, which the children would find early in the morning, often hid in shoes.”
  60. 67.
  61. 68. Looking Fine <ul><li>“ Right reverend and worshipful father… I beseech you that you would vouchsafe to send me some money…for I have but one gown at Framlingham, and another here, and that is my livery gown, and we must wear them every day for the more part, and one gown without change will soon be done. </li></ul><ul><li>Your son and lowly servant.” </li></ul>Letter from John Paston Jr., 20 years old, to his father, Halloween 1462.
  62. 69. Christmas Feasting
  63. 70. <ul><li>Midwinter feasting goes back to pre-Roman times </li></ul><ul><li>An opportunity to celebrate the harvest, use up food that might not survive the winter </li></ul><ul><li>Also an opportunity to break the Advent fast </li></ul>
  64. 71. A Noble Christmas Dinner <ul><li>In 1289 the Bishop of Swinford had a Christmas feast that lasted 3 days. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ They ate no less than 1 boar, 2 complete carcasses and 3 quarters of beef, 2 calves, 4 doves, 4 pigs, about 60 fowl (hens or possibly capons), 8 partridges and 2 geese , as well as bread and cheese. The amount of ale served was not recorded, but ten sextaries (about 10 pints) of red wine and one of white were consumed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is a modest amount for about 70 people”. </li></ul></ul>
  65. 73. Making Sotelties, Hampton Court Kitchen hearth, Hampton Court
  66. 74. <ul><li>Everyone feasted as much as they were able to. </li></ul><ul><li>Peasants/tenants usually received food from their lord. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1509, a developing middle class would have had family feasts. </li></ul>The Common Folk
  67. 75. <ul><li>A group of three prosperous villeins on a manor belonging to Wells Cathedral in the early fourteenth century received 'two white loaves, as much beer as they will drink in a day, a mess of beef and of bacon with mustard, one of browis (stew) of hen, and a cheese, fuel to cook their food... and to burn from dinner time till even and afterwards, and two candles.' </li></ul>
  68. 76. <ul><li>'but he must bring with him... his own cloth, cup and trencher, and take away all that is left on his cloth, and he shall have for himself and his neighbours one wastel [loaf] cut in three for the ancient Christmas game to be played with the said wastel.' </li></ul>
  69. 78. Menus <ul><li>No special Christmas food; same as most of the year, but more of it, richer, & spicier </li></ul><ul><li>Included: </li></ul><ul><li>mulled wine & cider, </li></ul><ul><li>chicken, goose, beef, pork, venison, rabbit </li></ul><ul><li>apples & pears </li></ul><ul><li>tarts & pies – sweet & savoury </li></ul><ul><li>carrots, peas </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  70. 80. The Main Course: Pork <ul><li>Pigs were traditionally eaten at Yuletide/Christmas </li></ul><ul><li>Most families would have had several pigs, if they could afford them </li></ul><ul><li>The Christmas boar hunt was a traditional pastime of the nobility </li></ul><ul><li>The Boar’s Head – big part of upper class feasts for all of medieval period </li></ul>
  71. 82. Medieval or Modern? <ul><li>Mince tarts </li></ul><ul><li>Turkey </li></ul><ul><li>Plum pudding </li></ul><ul><li>Gingerbread </li></ul><ul><li>Candy canes </li></ul><ul><li>Egg nog </li></ul><ul><li>Wassail/mulled wine </li></ul><ul><li>Goose </li></ul><ul><li>Hot chocolate </li></ul><ul><li>Cookies </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval </li></ul><ul><li>Modern/late medieval </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval </li></ul><ul><li>Modern (1670) </li></ul><ul><li>Modern/medieval </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval/modern </li></ul><ul><li>Medieval/modern </li></ul><ul><li>Modern </li></ul><ul><li>Modern/Medieval </li></ul>
  72. 83. ..and our friend Henry? On Christmas Day , there was always the seasonal favourite, seethed brawn made from spiced boar or pork , and perhaps roast swans ; the first course, however, was invariably a boar's head , which was served &quot; bedecked with bay and rosemary &quot;. For the sumptuous banquet that marked Twelfth Night , a special cake containing dried fruit, flour, honey, and spices was baked. The cake contained a pea or a bean; whoever found it would be King or Queen of the Pea or Bean for the evening. ... At the void on Twelfth Night, the choir of the Chapel Royal sang as the wassail cup , which contained spiced ale , was brought in by the Lord Steward and presented to the King and Queen and then passed around the table. Henry VIII: The King and his Court by Alison Weir
  73. 84. “ I’ll be home for Christmas”... Medieval or Modern?
  74. 85. <ul><li>“ I am sorry that ye shall not at home be for Christmas. I pray you that ye will come as soon as ye may; I shall think myself half a widow, because ye shall not be at home. God have you in his keeping. </li></ul><ul><li>Written on Christmas even.” </li></ul><ul><li>Letter from Margery Paston to her husband John, 1484. </li></ul>
  75. 86. Thank You!
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