December 24, 2013

Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas: Churching

Christmas Mass as Seen in "The Tudors"
As we continue with our Twelve Days of Tudor Christmas, we will discuss the importance of Churching. Going to Church was the most important part of any Tudor Christmas. The monarch would begin the Twelve Days of Christmas by attending Mass three times a day, exiting the Privy Chamber and walking in procession to the chapel. While processing, the genealogy of Christ was sung. Each Mass service required the monarch to wear new clothing, each sumptuous outfit accented with coronation robes and crown.

A popular tradition was the election of the "boy bishop." During the Twelve Days of Christmas, an altar or choir boy was decreed bishop. He performed all of the duties of the bishop, such as preaching and visiting parishioners. The only act he did not perform was conducting Mass. In the 1540's, Henry VIII abolished this practice, as he saw it as mocking the English Church, as well as its head...him.

King Edward VI decreed that all his subjects should walk to church during the Twelve Days of Christmas. I suppose since he had to walk, he felt his subjects should too. Technically, this decree is still in law.

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