“ARTLESS & SIMPLE”

 

The Lord of Misrule is one of the lost characters of the riotous Medieval Christmas celebration and comes from pagan winter solstice celebrations. Revived in ancient Rome, from the 17th to the 23rd of December, a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the good god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were turned topsy-turvy as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period.Late in November, it was customary among the European peasantry to draw lots for the title of Lord of Misrule. Wearing a paper crown and motley garments, the Lord of Misrule turned the ordinary rules on their head for his appointed time. He was given full licence to enjoy whatever pleasures he desired, and to lead the others down the merry path of dalliance and delight. One can only imagine what sorts of delight prevailed but certainly the kind that comes in a flagon must have been especially indulged.

The crowning of the Lord of Misrule is a tradition extending back into ancient times, and was a feature of Roman Saturnalia. Records from as late as the 3rd century suggest that the merry reign of the king of the revels came to a rather unjolly end when the chosen one was unceremoniously sacrificed on the altar of Saturn. In the Middle Ages, the tradition was revived in a more moderate form, most sacrificial elements removed or replaced by the less barbarous practice of burning the god in effigy. A remnant of this ancient custom clings to the current practice of pulling Christmas crackers: after the muffled explosion of the cracker, the prizes are generally revealed to be a joke, a charm, and the paper crown of the Lord of Misrule.

The catholic church outlawed this tradition at the Council of Basel in 1431 saying,"This festival teaches even the little children, artless and simple, to be greedy, and accustoms them to go from house to house and to offer novel gifts, fruits covered with silver tinsel. For these they receive, in return, gifts double their value, and thus the tender minds of the young begin to be impressed with that which is commercial and sordid."

The Lord of Misrule continues to this day in the guise of  Punch and Judy shows which can trace their roots to the 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte. The figure of Punch derives from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella, which was Anglicized to Punchinello.

He is a manifestation of the Lord of Misrule and Trickster figures of deep-rooted mythologies but don’t mention that or "they" may ban it !

 

 

 

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One thought on ““ARTLESS & SIMPLE”

  1. Gosh, what an interesting snippet of information. I am now a little wiser. Thanks as always for sharing.Off on my trip, will chat when I get back.

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