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Childermas: In Medieval England, Children Were Beaten On December 28

 

While Days of Knights, Peasants and Castles continues to grow in popularity on Netflix, people in medieval Europe were not as enthusiastic about their living conditions. Disease, injustice, and brutal cruelty were a way of life, even for those who could not begin to pronounce any of these words. Every year on 28 December, in a tradition known alternatively as Childermas and the Feast of the Innocent or Innocent, children were beaten to commemorate an even more violent event.


Childermas begins with King Herod

Good old Santa Claus, a little boy, was born in Bethlehem before the first reindeer stopped and jumped. You've probably heard about him. Around the same time, Herod, the king of Judea, heard a prophecy that predicted the arrival of a new king who would end Herod's brutal rule. Instead of taking this as a sign that some serious attention was in order on whether cruelty to his subjects was really in the best interest of all, he ordered the murder of all boys under the age of two in Bethlehem. Gave.

Interestingly, no one is quite sure when Jesus was born, so it is unclear when this event occurred. In fact, many historians doubt that this happened at all. Nevertheless, the people of medieval Europe were dead on some form of child-abuse, so December 28 was ironically declared Innocents Day.


Once a Not-So-Bad Celebration

The day was once part of a larger celebration that took place on the new year called the Feast of Fools. During this time, the parents gave up their authority to the church, and all kinds of strange celebrations took place. In some towns, a lucky boy would be chosen to serve as bishop for a day, which was basically the same as being mayor at the time. Unfortunately, this was still before the mass production of chocolate, so the range of their enjoyment was quite limited. Meanwhile, the youngest nuns and monks in their respective order were named abbot and abbot for the day, possibly to avenge the ruler-slap on their common superiors.


When did the children start whipping on December 28?

Over time, as some calamities and general misfortune spoiled the cultural mood, December 28 was rebranded as a day to remind the children of King Herod's (supposedly) cruelty. According to The Irish Times in 1928, an undated account read:

It has been a custom, and yet, on the morning of the Day of the Innocent, to whip children, that the memory of Herod's murder of the innocent may cling to the act of cruelty in close, and moderate proportions.
Some folklorists are of the opinion that the practice of beating children "may also have been practiced as a remnant of an old, pre-Christian custom intended to drive out evil spirits, ill health, or other harmful forces." Whatever the case, people were very fond of this tradition, following it well into the 1700s. A sign of bad luck finally struck on 28 December, so the couples refrained from getting married and the workers refrained from starting the construction of a new building that day. Edward IV also refused to be crowned on 28 December.


A Little Less Terrifying With The Passage Of Time

As time has taken us further away from the alleged brutal murder of children at the behest of a madman, traditions have changed a bit. In Central Europe, it became a custom for young boys to beat girls from door to door with branches and twigs. Apparently, the practice was seen "as a means to bestow health, fertility, abundance and good fortune", although it is not clear whether the girls felt particularly blessed. Meanwhile, in Belgium, it became a day for children to collect the keys to every door of the house early in the morning and lock the adults in the room they previously roamed in, until the children were bribed enough. They refused to go out until the offer was made. , Whatever the practice for whatever purpose, we can all agree that our holiday traditions have gotten much better over time.

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