Happy Childermas

Lincoln's Inn Great Hall
Lincoln’s Inn Great Hall

As we close out the year and prepare for a new one, I thought I’d take a look at Hone’s The Every Day Book to see what was going on on December 28. Today is Childermas and, in regard to the title of this post, it’s probably quite likely that Childermas (or Innocents) Day was not a happy event.   But it was commemorated on December 28.

According to Hone, “This is another Romish celebration preserved in the church of England calendar and almanacs.  [It is] conjectured to have been derived from the masses said for the souls of the Innocents who suffered from Herod’s cruelty.  It is to commemorate their slaughter that Innocents or Childermas-day is appropriated.”

As to “Happy Childermas” being an inappropriate greeting, consider that “It was formerly a custom to whip up the children on Innocent’s day morning, in order ‘that the memorial of Herod’s murder of the Innocents might stick the closer, and so, in modern proportion to the act over the crueltie agin in kinde.’”

Festive, heh?

On the brighter side Henry VIII enjoined that the king of cockneys (a master of the revels chosen by students of Lincoln’s Inn) should sit and have due services on Childermas-day. In other words, it was “a day of disport for sages of the law.”

So, I guess the festivity of Childermas, like many things, depended upon who you were.

(By the way, as the images for Childermas were really depressing, I’m giving you one Lincoln’s Inn Great Hall because – why not?)

Good Childermas to you. I hope you are disporting yourselves properly and not being whipped up in memory of Herod.  Indeed, I hope you are all happily preparing for the New Year.  I see that Elena is planning a Jane Austen Marathon, which sounds like an excellent idea.  What about you all?

About Myretta

Myretta is a founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a major Jane Austen destination on the web. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, www.myrettarobens.com and on Twitter @Myretta.
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2 Responses to Happy Childermas

  1. Elena Greene says:

    Thanks for this post, Myretta. I didn’t know about Childermas. It sounds like it ought to be honored by hugging our children and recognizing them for the miracles they are.

  2. Myretta says:

    A much better alternative to “whipping them up.”

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