Deprivation, devotion, followed by a bit of chaos. That seems to be the hallmark of the holy days during the medieval era. As winter approached, Advent was followed by the Christmas holy days, ending with Twelfth Night, and the reign of the Lord of Misrule. A time when men dressed like women and vice versa, the nobility served the peasantry.
The days of Lent flowed into the many observances of Easter, such as Palm Sunday and Good Friday. After Easter Sunday, the fun began in the form of Hocktide—a bit of playfulness before the peasantry returned to working in the fields.
Lent, like Advent, took the form of deprivation in what was allowed to be eaten. During the forty days of Lent, the diet consisted mostly of bread and vegetables, and on rare occasions fish. No food was to be eaten until after three o’clock in the afternoon. Meat, eggs and dairy were forbidden as were marital relation, in preparation for the coming holy days. One wonders if they were as strict with their diets as they were with the no sex edict. Wink, wink as there do not appear to be a corresponding time period when no children were born.
After the many days of food restriction, the Easter feast was a big event. The lord of the manor would prepare a feast for his servants. The feast included eggs that had been preserved for this day. Eggs have long been an important part of Easter, including painting them with scenes representative of the celebration. Additionally, this was a time for the giving of new clothes to those of lesser status.
Monday brought the beginning of Hocktide. An English holiday that lasted the two weeks after Easter. Not a lot is really known about this event, the origins of which are unclear. The event included the holding of a Hocktide Court. In my novel, TOKEN OF BETRAYAL, I give a nod to the most notable of the events, Hock Monday. On this day, the young maidens of the village captured young men (perchance a medieval precursor of Sadie Hawkins’ Day) who would gain their released upon payment of ransom. Hock Tuesday, was similar except the reverse. The young men captured the young maidens. The ransom was then donated to the Church.
The celebration of Hocktide was suppressed by Henry VIII during the Reformation period. It was revived briefly during the reign of Elizabeth I, then all be disappeared, with only a version of it still observed in Hungerford, in Berkshire, England.
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C.V. Lee writes historical biographical fiction featuring forgotten heroes and heroines of the past. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Alli, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. You can find her on Facebook @cvlee.histficwriter and on Instagram @cvleewriter.