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Water flowing underground
same as it ever was
Twelfth Night 
4th-Jan-2007 10:31 am
knitting sketch
The twelve-day, mid-winter festival 'Twelfth Night' once ended with great public fanfare, has receded to leave behind our truncated modern holiday season that views December 25 and January 1 as its high points, and January 2 as the day life goes back to normal.

The holiday celebrated as Twelfth Night was a high-spirited mid-winter event whose practices date back to the days of ancient Rome. It evolved from the Roman Saturnalia festival marking the onset of the winter solstice -- that point in late December when the sun, whose daily arc had reached its lowest, darkest, coldest point, began its rise toward the longer, warmer days that would ultimately cause trees to bud and seeds to sprout in the spring.

By the time of the late Renaissance, Christmas was a day of low-key observance that opened an annual twelve day festival of religious ceremony and secular celebration. The English word "Yuletide" actually means the twelve-day period between Dec. 25 and Jan. 6. In many communities, large bonfires were set in village centers and, on Christmas eve, each family burned a ceremonial Yule log to start the hearth fire around which its members and visitors would gather throughout the rest of the Christmas festival days.

Twelfth Night is a holiday on January 5 that marks the 12th and final night of the Christmas season. Twelfth Night is the eve before the twelfth day of Christmas or the Epiphany celebration, which commemorates the adoration of the Magi before the infant Jesus.

In Tudor England, the Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve - which we now celebrate as Halloween. A King or 'Lord of Misrule' would be appointed to run the Christmas festivities, and the Twelfth Night was the end of his period of rule. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. This Lord of Misrule tradition can be traced back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Shakespeare play 'Twelfth Night', or 'What You Will' was originally written to be performed as a Twelfth Night entertainment - well who'da thunk?

After Twelfth Night, the Carnival season starts, which lasts through Mardi Gras. In some places such as New Orleans, Louisiana, the night of January 6 with the first Carnival celebrations is called Twelfth Night. In some places, Twelfth Night celebrations include food traditions such as the king cake or tortell.

Iced King Cake

The 18th century's Twelfth Night was a feasting holiday in an era where food presentation itself was a primary entertainment. Darn that bowitch and her sinister attraction Christmas gift - it's all her fault that I'm having to go now to finish the last of the season's presentation of chocolate. I may be gone some time.

I wish you all a magical Twelfth Night - I intend to raise a glass or two (or three, or more) of champagne to celebrate the fact that lillianmorgan is slowly making her way back to LJ land and

for Dancing the Night Away in the Best Romance, Best Future, and Best Author categories.
4th-Jan-2007 12:33 pm (UTC)
Congratulations love!
4th-Jan-2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Sue - I'm especially pleased as this is my first real Spuffy fic, and kathyh made some wonderful banners for it for the writerconuk challenge.
4th-Jan-2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on your nomination (and now that the children are back at school and life is getting back to normal, I'm actually going to get a chance to read it and the other fic from the Winter Solstice Challenge).

The Twelfth Night information is interesting too - all I've ever known is that my mother insisted that the decorations were down by then, or all sorts of bad luck would ensue. I've always been a bit hit and miss with that, as I was never sure (until now that is) which date actually counted as Twelfth Night.

This is the first chance I've had to thank you for all your festive fic recs too - I really enjoyed reading (or rereading in a few cases) all the fic listed. Hope you don't mind, I've added you to my flist.
4th-Jan-2007 03:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you - it's my first Spuffy fic so I'm chuffed to have been nommed at S&B.

was never sure (until now that is) which date actually counted as Twelfth Night.
I never understood which was Twelfth Night until I did the little piece of research for this entry.

all I've ever known is that my mother insisted that the decorations were down by then, or all sorts of bad luck would ensue.
Me too - and now I've discovered the link between Twelfth Night and Mardigras, I've found the perfect excuse for continuing the Solstice celebrations until Shrove Tuesday even as I begin taking down the decorations. ;)

Hope you don't mind, I've added you to my flist.
Not at all - I've been pruning the dead wood out slowly and welcome new companions.
4th-Jan-2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Many congrats on the very well deserved nomination :) And thanks for the info on Twelfth Night. I had no idea that the Carnival season started immediately afterwards.
4th-Jan-2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I had no idea that the Carnival season started immediately afterwards.
Me neither - now I have the perfect excuse to prolong the celebrations until Lent, even after I've taken the decorations down later tonight.
4th-Jan-2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
Excellent info on Twelfth Night--always good to know historical references & info. Never know when that might come in handy.
Whoohoo & Congrats again for your nomination for Dancingthe Night Away.
5th-Jan-2007 10:32 am (UTC)
Never know when that might come in handy.
So you're another one who collects useless bits of information stuff?

4th-Jan-2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
Remember, get all those decorations down before Midnight on the 5th because for every leaf you leave a goblin will enter your house :)

Congrats on the nomination
5th-Jan-2007 10:36 am (UTC)
for every leaf you leave a goblin will enter your house
Well that's ok then - no leaves were harmed in the decorating of this house 'cos everything was sparkly imitation of the real thing. MWNN is so taken with the 'fairy lights' that have brightened the conservatory on the gloomy days and stormy nights that he's left them up. I understand they have to stay there for the whole year now?

Thanks - it came as a shock - a tingly and rather pleasant shock and I'd love to know who made the nomination. I have my suspicions but I've been wrong before.
4th-Jan-2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on the nomination, Pat. I'm so happy for you! :D

lillianmorgan is making her way back to LJ? That's definitely cause for celebration. Yay!
5th-Jan-2007 10:37 am (UTC)
Thank you - it came as a total and very pleasant surprise, just in time for Twelfth Night celebrations.

She says she's hoping to find more time to visit in 2007, yes :)
5th-Jan-2007 12:41 am (UTC)
Twelfth Night is actually my Mum's birthday, and is always the end of our family's Christmas Festivities.

I have been known to make 'King's Crown Biscuits' for Epiphany with my Sunday Schoolers - how traditional am I?

Actually I always aim to just get to the end of the Christmas food by Twelfth Night - I never start any New Year resolution type things until then either, particularly if they involve moderation of the food intake!
5th-Jan-2007 10:42 am (UTC)
I have every sympathy for people whose birthdays fall at Christmas time unless they are woven in to family celebrations in that way.

I wanted a King cake but couldn't find one anywhere and my baking disasters escapades are legendary so I didn't dare risk making one.

I gave up New Year resolutions years ago, opting for contemplation on the past year and then moving forward into the next one day at a time.
5th-Jan-2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
I am the same with resolutions - but there is a need to set a date after which the brandy butter goes into the freezer!

We have a major festive season - Christmas, my birthday, New Year and my mother's birthday in twelve days! Then nothing much used to happen for the rest of the year when the family was just Mum, sister and I.
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