THE MEDIEVAL YEAR

The year was reckoned not so much by month or date but by religious and saints days.


Fast days:
(ie. no meat days):
Wednesday (the day of the passion)
Friday (the day of the crucifixion)
Saturday (the scouring of hell)


threshing corn in a barn

Feast days:

Sunday (the day of the ressurection)





There now follows the Yearly cycle of religious events, what they meant, and how they were celebrated in the 15th. century, where known (where a date is given, it means from that time onwards):


ADVENT

1st Sunday of Advent: 4th Sunday before Christmas, start of the church year.
2nd Sunday of Advent: John the Baptist proclaims Jesus as the messiah.
3rd Sunday of Advent: 'Gaudetes Sunday', purple hangings changed for Rose ones in preparation for the incarnation.
Ember days: (Wed, Fri, Sat before 4th Sunday): solemn vigils for those to be ordained.
4th Sunday of Advent: advent is a time of fasting, like lent is before Easter.
25th December: Christmas Day. Masses at midnight, dawn and, say, vesper-time (3 masses per day are only allowed on special feasts). The tree symbology came from St. Boniface, and the crib from St.Francis. Xmas dinner is a Boar's head (4th Century).
28th December: Childermass day, the Holy innocents. Herod slaughters all male offspring in Judaea. No new clothes bought, no major new undertakings on this same day of the week all year until next childermass day.
1st January: The Circumcision. (6th Century). The New Year was of little significance.
Note that, due to the inaccuracies of the Julian calendar, by the late medieval period the calendar was several weeks out of sync with the sun.

6th January: Epiphany, the Adoration of the Magi. The three Kings give presents to Jesus, Gold for kingship, Frankincense for priesthood, and Myrrh for death.
Twelth Night: end of the Christmas season.
1st Sunday after Epiphany: Plough Sunday, ploughs brought into church to be blessed.
2nd Sunday after Epiphany:
3rd Sunday after Epiphany:
Candlemass: 40 days after Christmas day, The Presentation to the Temple. Candles lit in procession, Nunc dimmitus sung (7th Century).
4th Sunday after Epiphany:
5th Sunday after Epiphany:
6th Sunday after Epiphany: only if a late Easter!

LENT

The Annunciation 24th March. Lady's day. Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary.
Septuagesima: 64 days before Easter, the start of Lent for the very pious. Vespers said before noon in some monastic houses so as to allow an evening meal! Fish, milk, butter and cheese allowed.
Callop Monday: Meat hung up in callops and/ or salted.
Shrove Tuesday: Start of Lent proper, pious people shriven.
Ash Wednesday: As a sign of grief and mourning, 'palm' leaves from last year's Palm Sunday are burnt and the ashes daubed on the foreheads of the congregation.
1st Sunday of Lent: Jesus begins the forty days in the wilderness.
2nd Sunday of Lent:
3rd Sunday of Lent:

4th Sunday of Lent: Laetare Sunday. The Sermon on the Mount. Loaves and fishes. Also:
Mothering Sunday: Young servants allowed home. In Germany, a day of rejoicing as summer fights winter and summer wins.
5th Sunday of Lent: Iudica Sunday, Passion-tide begins.

EASTER

Palm Sunday: Jesus enters Jerusalem. Willow boughs gathered and displayed inside houses. Palms or olive branches (or substitute plants) are carried in procession between churches.
Holy Week: Matins and Laudes (the two late night offices) become Tenebrae, 'darkness'. 15 candles put out one by one until only one left burning put behind the altar.
Maundy Thursday: Jesus washes the disciples' feet. The Last Supper. Betrayal of Judas. 3 masses, no kiss of peace, altars stripped and holy water stoups emptied.
also: Shere Thursday: men shave and have hair cuts. There is some small evidence that this is the only time that vernacular priests, eg. village clergy, would have a tonsure.
also: Green Thursday: In Germany, the reconciled wear green boughs.
Good Friday: The day of the Crucifixion. Also called Paschal Day or Long Friday. A strict fast day, no mass, yesterday's host used if needed, black vestments. Loaves or buns made will last all year and act as medicine.
Holy Saturday: Also called the great sabbath. Still no mass. fast ends at midnight and easter vigil begins.
Easter Sunday: The Ressurection. Yearly shrivening for all, then compulsory mass. Eggs and herb cakes eaten. Painted eggs distributed. Altar redecorated. White vestments.
1st Sunday after Easter: Low, or close, Sunday. Paschal Tide.
2nd Sunday after Easter: Good shepherd Sunday.
3rd Sunday after Easter:
Rogation days: (Thur, Fri, Sat): Prayers, litanies,( in procession with flowers) for the well-being of the crops.
4th Sunday after Easter:
5th Sunday after Easter: Rogation day. Supplications for a good harvest.
Ascension day: Holy Thursday. The 40th day after Easter, Jesus ascends to heaven.'Beating the Bounds', children beaten at the parish boundaries so that they will remember them.
1st Sunday after Ascension: Expectation Sunday. The disciples wait for a gift from heaven

PENTECOST

Whitsun Sunday: Pentecost. The Holy Spirit given to the disciples. Baptisms, donations to the upkeep of the church, church ales sold.
1st Sunday after Whitsun: Trinity Sunday. Father, Son and Holy ghost are in heaven. (14th century).
Corpus Christi Thursday after Trinity Sunday. An effigy of the body of Christ is displayed in the streets.(13th century).
The Visitation 2nd July. Anne, mother of John the Baptist, visits Mary.
The Transfiguration. 8th Sunday after Trinity Sunday. Jesus, with Moses and Elijah, appears glorified in front of Peter, James and John.
Assumption of the Virgin. 15th August. Mary received in Heaven. (6th century).
Nativity of the Virgin. 8th September. Birth of Mary. (11th century). Followed by:
15th September. 7 Sorrows of the Virgin.

Michelmass. 29th September. St. Michael the archangel defeats the Devil. Church rents due.
Halloween. 1st November. All Hallows day, feast of all Saints. Followed by:
2nd November. All Souls day. 3 masses allowed. In Germany, Tottensontag.

Presentation of the Virgin. 21st November. The infant Mary presented to the Temple.


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