Caroling’s raunchy past

From a USA Today story about the decline of Christmas caroling, here’s a tasty nugget of holiday cheer:

Yet, caroling is ancient (the first Christmas carol was probably written in the 4th century, Studwell says), and associated with pre-Christian festivals, fertility rites, feasting and drinking — the antique equivalents of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. In medieval Europe, caroling referred to singing that accompanied dancing and merrymaking.

“Before 1800, it was public, rowdy, drunken, potentially violent, often sexual, and of course now we have New Year’s Eve for all that,” says Stephen Nissenbaum, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts and author of The Battle for Christmas.

He says wassailing (from the Anglo-Saxon was hail, or good health — a kind of medieval version of whassup) was a form of caroling that amounted to “aggressive begging.” Poor people would go to homes of the rich and sing, and if no one coughed up cash or treat, they could expect a trick .

I propose a new slogan for Christmas traditionalists: Debauchery is the reason for the season.

Christmas partyin’

Share

RSS feed

6 Comments »

Comment by Lees
2007-12-18 14:05:10

Hah! That’s brilliant. Sounds exactly like the kind of Christmas I’d like. :)

Comment by livius drusus
2007-12-20 11:42:03

It’s probably your anglo-saxon wassailing heritage, Lees. :D

 
 
Comment by wei yau
2007-12-18 19:39:26

“Aggressive begging”

It’s kinda nice to know that at one point or another the entire world was probably liked my beloved NYC.

Comment by livius drusus
2007-12-20 11:42:42

I like to think of it as double secret Halloween.

 
 
Comment by Clutch
2007-12-24 12:02:26

“…a kind of medieval version of whassup”

Beautiful.

Comment by livius drusus
2007-12-24 12:15:04

Ainorite?! I think I may have underestimated USA Today.

 
 
Name (required)
E-mail (required - never shown publicly)
URI

;) :yes: :thanks: :skull: :shifty: :p :ohnoes: :notworthy: :no: :love: :lol: :hattip: :giggle: :facepalm: :evil: :eek: :cry: :cool: :confused: :chicken: :boogie: :blush: :blankstare: :angry: :D :) :(

Your Comment (smaller size | larger size)

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

Navigation

Search

Archives

August 2019
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Other

Add to Technorati Favorites

Syndication