Twelfth Day

Today is Twelfth Day, the day after Twelfth Night and the traditional end to the Christmas festivities. Twelfth Day or the Epiphany marks the day the wise men arrived to present their gifts to the baby Jesus.

800px-Twelfth001During the Regency, Twelfth Night, the eve of the Epiphany, would have been a time for parties and balls, for drinking wassail. One feature of such parties would be a cake into which a bean was baked. Whoever found the bean became the Lord of Misrule.

In preparation for Twelfth Night, the confectioners shops put on elaborate displays of Twelfth Night cakes, which could cost anywhere from several guineas to a few shillings. In Chambers Book of Days, he states: “We remember to have seen a huge Twelfth-cake in the form of a fortress, with sentinels and flags; the cake being so large as to fill two ovens in baking.”

Robert_Baddeley_as_Moses_in_Sheridan's_'The_School_for_Scandal'_c1781,_by_Johann_ZoffanyChambers also tells of another Twelfth Night tradition. In 1795, the will of comedian Robert Baddeley made a bequest of one hundred pounds to provide cake and punch each year to the performers at Drury Lane Theatre. It is a tradition that continues at the theatre today.

On Twelfth Day all Christmas decorations  the traditional day to remove all your Christmas decorations. In Regency times all the greenery gathered to decorate the house would be taken down and burned. To leave decorations up after this date would be considered bad luck.

I took down and packed away all my decorations last Friday.

Have you taken your decorations down yet?

A Marriage of Notoriety is now available in ebook as well as paperback.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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