- Party ideas for all!
ELIZABETHAN CHRISTMAS PASTIMES
Just got my paws on the 1665 edition of Francis Willughby's Book of
Games. He has the rules for a number of games that are referenced to
the 16th century (thanks OED!). Among them are several
Christmas/Twelfth night pastimes ("gambols"). .
ROBIN ALIVE- A boy's game. One boy takes a stick and lights it on
fire, then chants "Robin alive and live if like to be if it dies in
your hand, you shall be saddled" while waving the stick. If it stays
on fire, he hands it to another boy. If it goes out, he is
blindfolded ("hoodwinked") and must kneel on all fours. Then another
boy holds anything in the room over his head and asks the hoodwinked
boy what it is. If he can't guess, the object is placed on his back
and another brought for guessing. Once successfully guessed, the boy
can remove his blindfold and starts the game anew.
A FOOL WHO BOBBED THEE- A player has another cover his eyes with his
fingers. Then yet another cuffs the first on the ear. The player
then asks "Fool, who bobbed thee?". If the first can guess the
second player then has to be the first (the cuffee).
SHOOING THE WILD COLT- A far more mature game, a sturdy pole or
plank is placed between two stools. A trencher is placed on each
stool. A player sits on the plank with a stick just long enough to
reach the trenchers. He then trys to knock the trenchers off without
falling. This is called Shooing the Colt. Doing behind your back is
called Girting, doing it under the plank is called Putting on the
Crupper. Willughby seems to think this can be difficult, so this
should be set up as precariously as possible. And of course, this
being the 1590s, betting should ensue.
MORE CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS-
Post a set of Rules and Laws up for all to read- those failing to
doff their cap before reading must pay a forfeit (see below).
Wassail should be made and drunk out of a brown, rustic (probably
wooden) bowl before dinner. A Wassail song should be sung .
A Boarshead will be brought in at dinner decked in rosemary. They
probably sang the traditional "Boarshead Carol". I need to look into
A Cake will be served with a bean and a pea baked in. Those who get
a piece with a bean or pea become the King and Queen of Misrule, get
a badge that marks them as such, and get to lord it over the rest of
everyone for the evening's revelery. The Puritan Stubbes (1583)
froths at the mouth about this folly, I'll see if I can drag up what
he has to say about it so we can get some ideas (take that, Stubbes!)
No doubt, he'd want us all branded on the forehead.
FORFEITS- One of the great Elizabethan Christmas traditions was (you
guessed it) gambling. Frequently, instead of money, the loser had to
pay a forfeit. This was basically anything amusing and slightly
humiliating the losers alleged friends could come up with. A typical
one was HORSING, which involved the loser having to straddle a pole,
which was carried about by two other men. They would then take him
to the cellar, where they'd try to get the butler to give them a
drink. Being the recipient of "A fool who bobbed thee" might be
another good forfeit.
--- End forwarded message ---
- --- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com, "dparishwhittaker"
> A Boarshead will be brought in at dinner decked in rosemary. Theyinto
> probably sang the traditional "Boarshead Carol". I need to look
> it's provenance.A bunch of us went caroling Friday night. We'd knock on a door
singing something, finish up, then ask whoever answered the door if
they had a particular favorite to request. One wise guy (not
realizing who was caroling in his front yard) cried, "The Boar's Head
Carol!" which we promptly broke into.
There are at least two known versions. There's a 15th century one
with a "Nowell" refrain that's melodically complex. There's a
manuscript with lyrics from 1521 (no tune noted) that bears a great
deal of similarity to the "traditional" version most know today.
IIRC, my copy of the "Oxford Book of Carols" could not pin down the
origin of that tune with any reliability, however, it doesn't sound
Not-Period, if you know what I mean:
For the 1521 lyrics attributed to Wynken de Worde, go to
For the 15th century Boar's Head Carol attributed to composer Richard
Smert (this one is absolutely gorgeous, but not particularly easy to
sing, so of course, I want to try to learn it - maybe in time for
next Christmas), go to:
Jehanne de Wodeford
- David, these are great! You should put these on the wiki! I made a
[Christmas] node there just yesterday!
Goodwife Katherine Rowberd (mka Kirrily "Skud" Robert)
Caldrithig, Skraeling Althing, Ealdormere
"The rose is red, the leaves are grene, God save Elizabeth our Queene"