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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Preparing for the Twelveth Night

I read a little about the Twelveth Night this morning, trying to find out more about the twelve days of X-mas. It was interesting to find that the celebrations have been around a lot longer than the song suggests. Saturnalia lasted 'til mid-moon after Winter Solstice, which could put it as late as mid month in January, but around January fifth. Give of take a week or two. Oddly enough, we often re-create the customs of our ancestors either knowingly or unknowingly, because it is part of our genetic code. Let the revelry continue, at least until January Fifth, the Twelveth Night.

In ancient times, a cake would be baked and in it would be hidden a bean, coin or nut. Whoever should get he piece of cake with the foreign object would become lord of the feast. I guess this is a great reason to have your cake first. The holiday celebrations stretched out to fill the long dark nights of winter  and served as both distraction and community building as we would annually pass the mantle of host throughout the tribe. So much more could be achieved if we were only to recognize this ancient human art of reciprocation.

The art of the give-away comes up routinely in my writing because it is so fundamental to pour humanity. Every intact tribal culture exhibited this aspect and as each one has lost touch with their roots, it is supplanted with issues of power and control, abuse and neglect, patriarchy and "rule of law". Codified systems of "justified retribution", crime and punishment and property "rights"
 have led to far more savage abuses than they have ameliorated. Perhaps by selecting random folks to fill in for our leaders, to rewrite the "laws" if even for one night, could lead us out of our very bleak situation.

Of course, the cast of characters for any respectable Twelveth Night festival also include the queen of court, the jester and a slate of advisers, viziers and the courtiers. Perhaps seeing the silliness of the retinue helps offset how seriously we take our rulers during the rest of the year.  It is only the third day of X-mas, so we have nearly ten days to plan out Twelveth Night festivities. May yours be fun and full of hilarity! In my reading, it made it seem like this celebration is growing in popularity. Bonfires and revelry  are retaking their place amongst the people and that can only be a good thing.

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