BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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of Fortune, Prince of Alba Fortunata, Lord of St. John's, High Regent of the Hall, Duke of St. Giles's, Marquis of Magdalen's, Landgrave of the Grove, Count Palatine of the Cloysters, Chief Bailiff of Beaumont, High Ruler of Rome, Master of the Manor of Walton, Governor of Gloucester Green, sole Commander of all Titles, Tournaments, and Triumphs, Superintendent in all So­lemnities whatever."
From these titles,—as well as from those which we have already mentioned as being assumed by the courtiers of the illustrious Prince of Sophie,—our readers will perceive that alliteration was an esteemed figure in the rhetoric of the revels.
We must not omit to observe that an officer corresponding to the Lord of Misrule, appears to have formerly exercised his functions at some of the colleges at Cambridge, under the more clas­sical title of Imperator. And we must further state, that, at Lin-coln's-Inn, in the early times of their Christmas celebrations, there appear to have been elected (besides the Lord of Misrule, and, we presume, in subordination to him), certain dignitaries exercising a royal sway over the revelries of particular days of the festival. In the account given by Dugdaleof the Christmas held by this society in the ninth year of Henry VIII.'s reign, mention is made, besides the Marshal and (as he is there called) the Master of the Re­vels, of a King chosen for Christmas-day,—and an officer for Childermas-day, having the title of King of the Cockneys. A relic of this ancient custom exists in the Twelfth-night King, whom it is still usual to elect on the festival of the Epiphany,— and of whom we shall have occasion to speak at length, in his proper place.
The length of the period, over which the sway of this poten­tate extended, does not seem to be very accurately defined ;—or rather, it is probable that it varied with circumstances. Strictly speaking, the Christmas season is, in our day, considered to ter­minate with Twelfth-night; and the festival itself to extend over that space of time of which this night, on one side, and Christ­mas-eve on the other, are the limits. In ancient times, too, we find frequent mention of the twelve days of Christmas. Thus the George Ferrers of whom we have spoken, is appointed " to be in his hyness household for the twelve days;" and he dates one of
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