Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Feast of Fools

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

In Medieval Britain, today was the Feast of Fools, also celebrated in Paris from about 1198 - 1438, a day of licensed jesting – a kind of religious April Fools' Day. It was a crazy day on which low clerical officials could swap places with the higher ones, a mock pope was elected and churchmen parodied religious rituals - for just one day.

It harkens back to the feast of Saturnalia in ancient Rome, for several days from December 17, when a Lord of Misrule was appointed to rule temporarily for Saturn.

It was also known in Latin by various names, including festum fatuorum, festum stultorum and festum hypodiaconorum and was like various other celebrations, such as the Feast of Asses, and the Feast of the Boy Bishop.

Although the festivities often became anti-ecclesiastical, anti-clerical and even blasphemous, for centuries, the Church allowed the people to revel on this day. In 1440, theologians in Paris argued, in defence of the Feast of Fools, that even a wine vat would burst if the bung-hole were not opened occasionally to let out the air. However, there were often objections raised: In Paris in 1199, Bishop Eudes de Sully imposed regulations to ensure that the abuses committed in the celebration of the January 1 Feast of Fools at Notre-Dame didn't happen again, and perhaps they didn't for a time. Robert Grosseteste (c. 1175 - October 9, 1253), Bishop of Lincoln, England, was another who condemned the feast mercilessly. The celebration of the Feast of Fools was eventually outlawed in 1555 ...



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