Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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POST-EPIPHANY FESTIVALS
glance at a few last sparks, so to speak, of the Christmas blaze, and then at the English festivals which marked the resumption of work after the holidays.
In Sweden Yule is considered to close with the Octave of the Epiphany, January 13, "St. Knut's Day," the twentieth after Christmas.
"Twentieth day Knut Driveth Yule out"
sing the old folks as the young people dance in a ring round the festive Yule board, which is afterwards robbed of the viands that remain on it, including the Yule boar. On this day a sort of mimic fight used to take place, the master and servants of the house pretending to drive away the guests with axe, broom, knife, spoon, and other implements.S6 The name, " St. Knut's Day," is apparently due to the fact that in the laws of Canute the Great (1017-36) it is commanded that there is to be no fasting from Christmas to the Octave of the Epiphany.57
In England the day after the Epiphany was called St. Distaffs or Rock Day (the word Rock is evidently the same as the-German Rocken = distaff). It was the day when the women resumed their spinning after the rest and gaiety of Christmas. From a poem of Herrick's it appears that the men in jest tried to burn the women's flax, and the women in return poured water on the men :
"Partly work, and partly play You must on St. Distaff's day : From the plough soon free your team, Then come home and fother them ; If the maids a-spinning go, Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men ;
Give St. Distaff all the right,
Then bid Christmas sport good night ;
And next morrow, every one
To his own vocation." s8
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