The Middle Ages and the Tudor era in England were periods of many traditions and celebrations. And the arrival of the end of summer, far from being a time of depression after vacation, as happens today to the common mortals, was a time to celebrate. And how!
The ” Late summer “, the last days of summer and early autumn, was accompanied by a series of very picturesque traditions. There was “ The wakes ” (vigils), theoretically to celebrate the commitment of the different parishes with the Church. But far from being vigils dedicated to prayer, they were dedicated to good drinking among neighbors.
It was a type of celebration that was organized in each parish. In fact, it was common for neighboring parishes to unite with each other for this type of community celebration. As the name suggests, it was a beer-based celebration, which the different churches distributed / sold to raise funds.
They were festivities of the most controversial since, in most of the cases, having alcohol in between, they ended up getting out of hand. And in many occasions, the collection that was obtained with the sale of the beer, was not destined to the adjustments of the parish but they were invested in paying the drink for this celebration and to accompany it with a great banquet.
Henry VIII, the most festive king of all, decreed that all parishes should place their ” Dedication fest ” on the first Sunday of October, in order to move this tradition away from other festivities and to space them in time, as he considered that the population had too many parties in a row and did not like that they were continually so idle.
Or harvest parties. They have their origin in pagan rituals and certain superstitions around collecting the last bunch of harvested corn.
In the collection of the last harvest, everything was placed in a car adorned with garlands and a richly dressed image representing the Roman goddess Ceres (which favored agriculture, harvests and fertility) was carried.
They kept the car in a barn and then went home to celebrate the ” Harvest Home Supper “, or what is the same, a super dinner after the harvest to celebrate that they had completed this period satisfactorily, since it was a very hard job . And any excuse was good for eating and drinking, especially for the farmers, who saw their reward here after the great effort.
Over time, the Catholic Church adopted this rite, like so many others, and left their paganism to be a kind of feast of thanksgiving to God for having had a good harvest that would allow them to eat for a year and not go hungry, until The next.
Today, these harvest parties are still celebrated in many regions at the end of the summer. Not so the ” Churches Ales “, which were losing tradition with the passage of time.
As you can see the end of the holidays, far from being a great tragedy, it was a reason to celebrate in other times …