Bicycle Diaries: <i>T'was the night before Xmas</i>

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T'was the night before Xmas

the lords of misrule

This is just a little update on the Santa Cycle Rampage 06 as everyone gets their last minute shopping out of the way. Yesterday, Orlando Patterson had a rather fascinating Op-Ed in the NYTimes. The famous Harvard sociologist writes that Xmas is
...a national rite that dissolves the boundaries between sacred and secular, pagan and civilized, insiders and outsiders.
To prove his point, Paterson observes that Santa Claus doesn't actually come to us from the venerable Old St. Nick of the Dutch. Rather, he's a descendant of the Lord of Misrule. This ancient pagan figure from the British Isles was a commoner appointed by the king and the nobility to reign over the twelve days of Christmas. He had real power. His often silly whims had to be obeyed by all, even the king.

Just like our rampaging Santas, the Lord of Misrule roamed the streets with a band of rowdies. Often drunk, they sang bawdy songs and performed other silly antics. Sometimes they even barged into churches disrupting the services, an act that did not sit well with church officials. Despite this sacrilege, they were warmly welcomed by passersby with generous gifts of food and drink.

Although the practice was eventually banned by the dour English Puritans, these holiday anarchists found refuge on the shores of the New World. So next year, when the Santa Cycle Rampage rolls loudly by: relax, enjoy the show. And don't forget to offer them a drink!

And this year?
Enjoy the silly, wacky holidays!

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Blogger gwadzilla said...


27/12/06 11:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting bit of information for me, being from Philadelphia. I was once a mummer in the long lost past. Every year Philadelphia celebrates the new year by having thousands of drunks dressed in the most outlandish costumes march up Broad street from south philly performing skits and playing string band music (I was a Bari sax player in a string band) I never knew the origins of the word mummer, but this seems to be where it came from!


7/1/07 12:19  

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