Copyright © "Pannikins by Mary Eccher" - All Rights Reserved
MEDIEVAL FEASTS are legendary in themselves, but medieval Christmas is at least 12 times more splendid than any other holiday. One reason is that it lasts 12 full days, beginning on Christmas Eve and ending on the Twelfth Day.
In the banquet hall, greenery is everywhere, with evergreen branches and sprigs of holly decorating walls, windows and tables. There is no Christmas tree (they did not become fashionable until the 19th century), but a Christmas Bush is hung from the ceiling with a sprig of mistletoe in its center. Guests entering the hall parade under the bush and begin the festivities with a kiss of friendship.
Before the exquisitely prepared foods are served, a musical fanfare signals the start of the feast's ceremonies --- Wassail, Salt, Upper Crust, Credence and Handwashing. The Surveyor of Ceremonies, who is the feast hall's banquet master, sings the Wassail (welcome) song. Next is the presentation of the Salt, in an elaborate container, to the highest ranking quests at the feast. Then the Pantler, a noble servant who is in charge of the bread, cuts the upper crust from a round, delicately spiced, beautifully-colored loaf of bread and presents it to the most honored quest. He then cuts thick slices of bread, called trenchers, for the quests to use instead of plates for the various finger foods. Credence testing of the wine is done by the Cup Bearer to assure that the drink is pure and safe. The Surveyor now calls the Laverer, who helps each quest to wash their hands with spiced and herbed warm water.
The Yule Candle is then lit. This is a gigantic candle slowly crafted throughout the year from multiple colors of wax taking 12 months to make. Usually it has some fragment of wax in it from last year's Yule Candle. The candle base is surrounded with holly and 12 ornaments of thin metal such as triangles, stars, bears and horseshoes that decorate the holly. The Yule Log is lit next. The largest possible log that the hearth will hold is brought into the hall. This will be kept burning all 12 days of Christmas. One small section of the log must be set aside and preserved as the first ignited kindling of next year's Yule Log. Then let the feasting begin! Continued on Next Page
by Mary Eccher - page 1 of 7
LET THE FEASTING
In medieval times, the appearance of food at
the Christmas Feast was as important as the taste
from December 1984
Handcrafted Collectible Dollhouse Scale Miniature Foods, Beverages and Accessories
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