Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas - Lord of Misrule

Lord of Misrule

The custom of appointing a Lord of Misrule stemmed from ancient Rome. From the 17th to the 23rd of December his duty was to preside at the feast of Saturnalia, in the semblance of Saturn, the beneficial god. At that time masters served their slaves, and slaves became state officials. At that time, The Lord of Misrule was in authority and could order anyone to do anything.

The custom continued in the Christian era when the well-paid King of Misrule or Lord of Misrule officiated for many days at Christmas in the late medieval and early Tudor eras. He supervised Christmas celebrations at court, in noblemen’s houses, in the Inns of Court and at Oxford and Cambridge universities. During the festivities, he received homage from his court and was in charge of all the entertainment.

Eventually, the authorities put an end to the custom because, as time passed by the custom of having a Lord of Misrule degenerated into an excuse for rowdy behavior. Accompanied by a crowd playing musical instruments, and acting like mummers, he would march to church and interrupt the service.

No comments: