The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Regency Christmas season lasted from Christmas Eve till Twelfth Night, the eve of the Epiphany (when the arrival of the magi at Christ’s side is celebrated). Each day was filled with music making, skating on frozen ponds, and gentle rustic pursuits.
The custom of the First Foot on New Years Day was particularly important. It was considered very lucky if the first visitor to “set foot” over one’s threshold was a well-favored, dark haired man. (How very practical! When isn’t a tall, dark and handsome man at one’s door good luck?) Often in small villages, a fellow who fit the description would be appointed to visit every home, bringing symbolic gifts of salt for wealth, coal for warmth, and bread for food. The householders would offer him food and drink in return and an auspicious year was assured.
Twelfth Night was filled with even more revelry than Christmas Day itself. This was a time for amateur theatricals, music and games. A bean was hidden inside a cake and the person who discovered the bean was proclaimed the Lord of Misrule and might dictate the events of the evening. With wassail flowing and spirits high, Twelfth Night was a fitting end to the Regency Christmas celebration.
We love to make the holidays last, so my DH and I are heading back to Missouri after the 25th to be with our oldest daughter and my parents. Christmas will come with us.
Do you extend your holiday celebration beyond December 25th?