So how was the Christmas for you? Did you manage to prepare everything on time? After consuming all those mince pies and that festive food are your clothes feeling a little bit tighter than they did 12 days ago? What was your preferred tipple? Whisky? Sherry? Wine or beer? Maybe you’ve tried all of them several times over the past 12 days? Have you considered seeing if you can raise a little extra pocket money on eBay with those unwanted or slightly strange gifts?
Could this festival go on forever? Would you like it to go on forever? Don’t worry – Twelfth Night is here to save the day!
Short films from Twelfth Night at the Globe are embedded within the following text -
The celebrations at Shakespeare’s Globe were kindly led by the theatre company The Lions Part, in association with the Globe. They also provided a programme containing details about Twelfth Night:
Twelfth Night is an event that happens 12 nights after Christmas and marks the end of the Christmas festivities.
The event started with the arrival of the Holly Man on a boat from the Thames. The Green Man has many different faces and variations and is deeply rooted in a whole host of English customs and traditions. He is also known as Jack-in-the-green or Robin Hood. He is transformed into the Holly Man for Twelfth night.
Wassail is said to have come from a very old tradition whereby friendships were mended and wishes for good health were made by the drinking of a peace cup – an ale / cider drink. Twelfth night is also a traditional time for wassailing apple trees (you must remember to feed some cider to the tree itself), scaring away evil spirits and encouraging a good and large crop of apples in order to make lots of cider later in the year. The following short film illustrates the Wassailing that took place as part of the Twelfth night celebrations at the Globe:
Folk plays were- and still are – performed at midwinter all over England by mummers or guisers (people in disguise). The word mummer is sometimes thought to have been derived from Middle English mum (silent) or Greek mommo (mask), but is more likely to be associated with Early German mummer (disguised person), and vermummen (to wrap up, to disguise, to mask ones faces). Mummers are also known in some places by local names such as Rhymers, Ploughjags, Pace-eggers, Soulers, Tipeerers or Galoshins.
The principal characters in Mummers plays, presented in a wide variety of manner and style, are a Hero, their chief opponent, the Fool, and a quack Doctor. The hero sometimes kills and sometimes is killed by his opponent; in either case, the doctor comes to restore the dead man to life. There is enormous diversity of character and narrative, but all mummers plays contain death and resurrection: a theme which is at the heart of both the Christian Passion and Pagan ceremonies. It is part of the struggle of good against evil, and helps to ensure that spring follows a severe winter. The following short film illustrates excerpts from the Mummers plays that The Lions Part company performed as part of the celebrations:
In old England, and even up to Victorian times, Twelfth Night was a time of parties and games. Traditional roles were relaxed and masters waited on their servants, men were allowed to dress as women, and women as men. Often a Lord of Misrule was chosen to lead the revels. There were many ways of choosing the Lords of Misrule – choosing a card, elections, or finding a bean / pea in your cake. Members of The Lions Part handed out cakes to their audience and the following short film illustrates the crowning of King Bean and Queen Pea:
So with good cheer and much merriment it’s time to end the festival of Christmas. But here’s to wishing you much joy and good luck over the following year! Wassail!!