| Chap XVI | Contents | Project Canterbury |





would be an inquiry, equally curious and profitable, which should investigate that which we may call the domestic influence of the Mediæval Church. How ecclesiastical festivals became seasons of home enjoyment; how holy days were turned into holidays; how the Church’s children learnt, in private life, to think and to speak in the Church’s way; how, ascending higher, the powers of this world, the governors of the state, fell almost unconsciously into the times and the seasons of her who is not of this world; how, for example, sheriffs were pricked on the morrow of S. Martin; how lawyers reckoned, by Hilary or Trinity term ; how every class was subject to the same moulding influence; how boys went a Midlenting, and peasants hunted the wren on S. Stephen’s day, and kings held their Maundy. Merchants, over their ledgers, spoke the language, at least, of religion; till very lately, bills of lading always commenced with the words "I, A.B. do send greeting in the Lord God everlasting;" nor are the formulæ quite obsolete, "The ship C. whereof D.E. under God is matter;" nor yet that, "To sail with the first fair wind that God shall send." Gems were invested with a thousand mystical significations in the eyes of the jeweller; the country simpler had his Lent Lilies, his Herb Trinity, his Our Lord and Lady, his Alleluia Flower, his Star of Bethlehem. Children began their Alphabet with a Criscross; countrymen saw in the ass the token of our LORD’S entry into Jerusalem; suicides were buried in a cross way. It was the fame influence always and everywhere at work; Sometimes beautifully, sometimes amusingly, [509] sometimes extravagantly, but always most really. The Church, whatever her language. was herself vernacular.

    We propose to give a few of the national and provincial terms which have been impressed on Ecclesiastical Holydays. It may not be entirely useless to dwell on them; for we are not yet perfectly rid of that stiffness which led men, at the beginning of the movement, to call Christmas Eve the Vigil of the Nativity, and to date letters on the Monday of Pentecost. That a Church should really be national, her terms must be household words, as they have always most been when a national Church was most efficient. Without further preface, we will begin with the commencement of the Ecclesiastical year.

    It is curious that the season of Advent should have retained its Latin name everywhere. The Sundays, indeed, were not always reckoned in the fame way, the more usual method being to count the first as the fourth, and that nearest to Christmas as the first. The old rule for finding the first Sunday in Advent ran thus:—

Saint Andrew the King
Three weeks and three days before Christmas comes in:
Three days after, or three days before,
Advent Sunday knocks at the door.

    The old Hispanic Advent had six, weeks, the Sunday next after Martinmas being the first;* and this is also the case in the Ambrosian rite.

    Church saws fixed the commencement of winter to S. Clement’s Day. The usual lines which regulate the beginning of the seasons are:—

Dat Clemens hyemem, dat Petri ver Cathedratus:
Æstuat Urbanus; autumnat Symphorianus.

We have read them thus in a Cambray Missal:—

Cedit hyems retro cathedrato Simone Petro.
Ver fugat Urbanus; æstatem Symphorianus.
Festum Clementis caput est hyemis venientis.

Or, if the reader wishes a version:—

Winter goes off, and skies grow fair,
When Simon Peter sits in Chair:
Saint Urban bids the Spring be gone:


Symphorian calls the autumn on:
Saint Clement’s day the wind and rain
And cold of winter brings again.

    And a very fair division, too, if we add to the times specified (February 22, May 25, August 22, and November 21), the eight or ten days that the correction of the Calendar, at the date when there verses were written, would have required.

    The season of Advent has left few traces in natural names. Advent-grass hence receives its title; and in Germany wild geese are called Advent-birds, and sometimes, as also with us, Ember geese.

    The English Calendar gives the old rule for the discovery of the Advent Ember-days; the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, after S. Lucy’s Day.

Fasting days and Emberings be
Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie;

said the rhyme. The modern Roman use fixes the last to the third week in Advent, which must always come to the fame thing.

The cristate verses give them thus:—

Dant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia,
Ut sit in angariâ quarta sequens feria.

The Latin name has remained in modern languages, though the contrary is sometimes affirmed, Quatuor Tempora, the Four Times. In French and Italian the term is the same; in Spanish and Portuguese they are simply Temporas. The German converts them into Quatember, and thence, by the easy corruption of dropping the first syllable, a corruption which also takes place in some other words, we get the English Ember. Thus, there is no occasion to seek after an etymology in embers; or with Nelfon, to extravagate still further to the noun ymbren, a recurrence, as if all holy seasons did not equally recur. In Welsh, Ember-week is Wythnos y cydgorian, the Week of the Processions. In mediæval Germany they were called Weihfasten, Wiegfastan, Wiegefasten, or the like, on the general principle of their sanctity (we shall presently see the meaning of the word). We meet with the term Frohnfasten, frohne being the then word for travail. Why they were named foldfasten it is less easy to say..

Of the Saints Days that occur during Advent we have three French proverbs:—

Si hiver était outre la mer,
Si viendra il a Sant Nicolas parler.


 of S. Lucy:—

A la fête de Sante Luce
Le jour croit du faut d’une puce.

Of S. Thomas:—

A la fête de Sant Thomas,
Les jours gradissent d’un pas.

All which maxims speak of the old Calendar. If they are, as is likely, of the fifteenth century, S. Lucy’s day falls on what would now be the 22nd of December, S. Thomas’s on the 30th. This must be kept in mind in the like sayings.

We proceed to Christmas. In most Celtic languages Christmas Eve is called the Night of Mary. It is still observed with great pomp in the Isle of Man, the peasants vying with each other in bringing tapers to church, and in singing carols there. The festival itself is variously named. Our own Chrislmas comes nearest to the German provincialism, Christfest. The Romance languages merely retain the Latin name, the French deviating from it most widely in Noel. This word became a cry of joy; we find it sung at Angers, during the eight days preceding Christmas, fifteen times at the conclusion of Lauds, and it thus came to be used at other seasons of rejoicing. So, Monstrelet frequently tells us of the cry of Noel that accompanied some triumphant procession. The Welsh Nadolig is from the fame source. The German Weihnachten has been derived from Wein, as if expressing the festal character of the day. But it is clearly from the inseparable compound Weih, which denotes sanctity or holiness, and occurs so often in German ecclesiastical words. Its composition with the word night, rather than day, is referable to the midnight mass with which the solemnity so beautifully begins. In Portugal, Pascoa, as the proper term for Easter, is by an easy corruption applied also to the two other great festivals. Christmas is therefore Pascoa do Natal.

Here, also, we have the Scotch Yule, the mediæval German Juel, as they say, from julen, to be merry. But a more remarkable appellation, Anklopfters-dag, from a custom of going round with mallets or hammers, and beating at every door and shutter, a symbolism of the anxiety of "the spirits in prison" to be set free by the birth of the New King. In Basque, Chriftmas is Eguberi (i.e. New Day): "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The Eastern Church, as we shall see, gives (not less truly) this epithet to the Easter season. In Irish, Christmas is called Notlaig; simply from Natale.

S. Stephen’s Day was in the south of France called Straw Day, [512] from the benediction of the straw, which some rituals then appointed. Hence, in Germany, it was Hafer-Weyhe, with the same meaning. In the north of England it is known as Wrenning Day, from the custom of stoning a wren to death, a cruel commemoration of S. Stephen’s martyrdom. In the south, the pigeon matches usually there celebrated are a relic of the old rite. In Denmark it was sometimes called "Second Christmas Day."

The Holy Innocents had a peculiar appellation in England and Germany only, Childermas Day, and Kindermesse. In other languages it is simply Innocents’ Day. The office of the day throughout the Church was one of sorrow; in many places Gloria in Excelsis was not sung: in some not even the Gloria Patri. The colour also was black. A trace of this remains in Leigh-upon-Mendip, in Gloucestershire, where, from time immemorial, a muffled peal has been rung on that festival. But, till a very recent period, not only that day itself, but the same day in every week of the succeeding year, was Childermas Day, and was considered highly unlucky. So the Spectator tells us of his superstitious hostess:—"As they began to talk of family affairs, a little boy at the lower end of the table told her, that he was to go into join-hand on Thursday. ‘Thursday!’ says she: ‘no, child, if it please GOD, you shall not begin upon Childermas Day: tell your writing-master that Friday will be soon enough.’ I was reflecting with myself at the oddness of her fancy, and wondering that anybody would establish it as a rule to lose one day in every week." Addison gives the day rightly, for in the preceding year (1710) Holy Innocents fell on a Thursday.

The election of a Boy Bishop, which took place usually on S. John’s Day, at night, sometimes gave rise to scenes of a very unedifying character, both on Holy Innocents’ and on New Year’s Day. The latter was, in French, La Fête des Soudiacres, or more frequently, The Feast of Fools. The former name was intended as a kind of pun between sou-diacres, subdeacons and souls diacres, drunken deacons; and both in the East and the West the custom gave the Bishops a good deal of trouble in putting it down, or at least restraining it within due bounds. On the contrary, in the south-east of Europe, the Missa de idolis prohibendis stamped quite a different character on the day, by announcing the overthrow of the profane joy which formerly welcomed in the New Year by an Idol Feast.

In Germany, besides the ordinary Jahrstag, it was sometimes known as Eben-Weichtag, i.e. a festival equal in importance to Christmas.


 The Epiphany, as it contains in itself three distinct festivals, so it was to be expected that we should find it known by a variety of distinct names. In the Spanish Epifania, and the Italian provincialism, Bafania, the Greek name is simply retained. In old Spanish, however, we find it called Apparicion derived from the Mozarabic ritual, which gives the Apparitio Domini. So in the Abbey of Fontevraud, it was L’Apparition. Our common English name, Twelfth Night, marks it out as the conclusion of Christmas-tide. For the most part, however, national usages connect its title with the worship of the Magi. So in German, it is Dreykönigstag; in Danish, Hellig Tre Kongers Dag; in French, Les Rois; in Portuguefe, Dia das Reis. In England also, to some extent, the festival was known as the Three Kings’ Day, and the practice of drawing for king is a relic of that use.. In Manx, it is Laa’l Chybbyr-ushtey, the day of offering worship. Another German name was Oberstag, or Der Oberste. In Saxony, Great New Year’s Day, as being a festival of more importance than the Circumcision. In Austria, Perchtag, that Is, Bright Day, for the same reason that we shall hear of in the Eastern Church.. In the East, the case was different. Here, as every one knows, the 6th of January was at first celebrated as the Feast of the Nativity, and Manifestation to the Gentiles, both in one; and the opposite practice was introduced from the Roman Church. The name Epiphany was still, however, applied in many cases to Christmas Day, and the universally received title for our Epiphany was The Lights; the Sundays before and after it also deriving their name from that appellation. The title originally bore reference to the illumination of Baptism, instituted, according to the more probable opinion, on that day, and afterwards to the candles with which, as symbolical of that, the churches of the East blaze. There it is still a festival of superior importance to Christmas, and in many churches of mediæval France the case was the same; as at Rouen, where it received the name of the Star Feast. Again, the solemn benediction of the waters in the East, has given a title, in some countries, to the day. Thus, in Illyria and Bulgaria it is known as the Vodocaerscta, the "Benediction of the Water;" In Russia, Creshtshenie, the Slavonic term for Baptism. In Welsh the festival is Sometimes termed Ystwyll, gloom-expelling, Sometimes Serenwyl, Star Festival.

The morrow of the Epiphany was popularly called S.. Distaff’s Day, from the goodwife reassuming her distaff after the Christmas holyday:—


Partly work, and partly play,
Ye must on Saint Distaff’s Day.

But this, of course, was simply a jocular appellation. Plough Monday, on the contrary, had, in some rituals, its own benediction. In Belgium, this is called Lost Monday, as given up entirely to revelling. At Strasburg, it is Schwör Tag, becaufe the city magistrates are then annually sworn in.

The Sundays after Epiphany have been named solely from their numbers; it being very rare, even in ancient Missals, to find them called from their introits. In the north of Italy, however, the second is known as Marriage Sunday, from the marriage of Cana, related in the gospel for the day.

The Purification was, in one sense, to the West, what the Epiphany was to the East, and has usually received its name from the multitude of tapers employed in the office, with reference, primarily, to the Light to lighten the Gentiles, which was then manifested by the mouth of Simeon. The French Church calls it La Chandeleure; in Spain and Portugal it is the Candelaria; in Basque, Ganderailu; in Denmark, it is the Kyndelmisse; in Germany, the Lichtmesse; in Suabia, Kerzweibe, or Kerzmesse; in Belgium, the Kersdag. In Welsh it is Gwyl Vairy Canwyllau, the Festival of Mary of the Candles; in Manx, for a reason we cannot explain, it is Laa’l Moirrey my Giangle, the Day of Mary’s being tied or secured. But, in the Eastern Church, it derives its name from the meeting of our LORD by Simeon and Anna; and is there termed Hypapante; by the Russian Church, with the fame meaning, Srietenie. And this. name was, as so often, transferred to the Latin Church, by which it was written Hypapanti; an easy corruption reduced this to Hypanti, which was the most frequent mediæval name. In the north of Italy it was often termed S. Simeon’s Day; in France the name was, in many instances, the same as that in our Calendar—the Presentation. We also meet with that of Susception Day. The proverb had great vogue:—

Si fol splendescat, Mariâ purificante,
Major erit glacies post festum quam fuit ante.

So, in France :—

Selon que nos viellards ont dit,
Si le soleil se montre et luit
A la Chandeleure, croyez
Qu’encor un hiver vous aurez.

There is this proverb also:—

A la fête de la Chandelcure
Les jours croissent de plus d’une heure,
Et le froid pique avec douleur.


S. Blaise’s Day is, in some parts of Germany, Kleine Kerzmesse—little Candlemas—because of the bonfires that it was usual (for an uncertain reason) to kindle on that night. One thing is clear—that the custom, not being peculiar to England, could not have arisen in an absurd pun on the faint’s name, as some have affirmed.

The week before Septuagesima Sunday is, in the Eastern Church, called Exhortatory Week, because the faithful are then exhorted to prepare themselves manfully for the great fast. The Nestorians term it the Ninevites’ Week, on account of a fast which they observe in commemoration of the repentance of Nineveh. The Armenians, who do the same, name it, from an uncertain reason, the Artziburion. "At that time," says a Greek divine, with bitterness sufficient, "the thrice accursed Armenians observe their abominable fast of Artziburion." The Saturday of the week was known as Alleluia Saturday, becaufe Alleluia was then, according to the most usual rule, dropped till Easter. Hence we have the beautiful hymn, Alleluia dulce carmen, and the magnificent Alleluatic sequence, appointed for that day.


almost everywhere retained its Latin name. In the Eastern Church it is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, that being the Gospel for the day. The week that succeeds is, in the East, Apocreos, because from Septuagesima Sunday meat is forbidden.


had also only its Latin title. In the East it is the Sunday of Apocreos; the weeks, at that time of the year, preceding, and not following their Sunday. The ensuing week is, in the East, Cheese Week; in Russia, Butter Week; becaufe, till the close of the following Sunday, cheese and butter are allowed. The Friday of Sexagesima was, in the north of Germany, the Kind-fest, or Kind-tag, being, by a peculiar rite, the Festival of the Invention of the Child in the Temple. In the Tyrol, the Thursday before Quinquagesima was called Mad Thursday, because kept as an especial Carnival; also, Rinne Donnerslag, from an uncertain reason.


or Esto mihi. In Germany this is, in many places, called Pfaffen-Fastnacht (Priest’s Fasting Night): many mediæval councils having ordered ecclesiastics to abstain from meat from that day forward. It was also very widely known as Esto mihi Sunday, from the commencement of the introit, Esto mihi in Deum Protectorem. In the patois of Navarre it is Dimenge cabée, a corruption of Dominica in Capite Jejunii. In Denmark it is Fastlelavn’s Sondag, Sunday of the Preparation for the Fast. In the Tyrol Rinne Sontag, probably (like the preceding Thursday) [516] in the sense of Run-about Sunday. In the East, for the reason given above, it is Butter or Cheee Sunday.

The following Monday is, in England, Collop Monday; because on that day, the last meat, and that in small quantities, was supposed to be cooked. In Vienne, and the adjacent parts of France, it was (and still is) Fat Monday (Lundi gras), for the following reason:—Some provincial Councils endeavoured to commence the fast, as in the East, on this day, instead of on the Wednesday; the people compromised the matter by beginning it on Tuesday, and hence this title for the last flesh-day. So in Switzerland, it is Feiste Dag.

Shrove Tuesday.

Here, as so often, the English name is, beyond all dispute, the most beautiful and appropriate of any; expressing the penitence with which Lent should be welcomed in. In Southern Europe it takes its name from the exact reverse, namely, from the Carnival. In Italy, it is Martedi grasso, as in France Mardi gras; also Martedi di Carnovale. The Spanish Church terms it Martes de carnestolendas; the Portuguefe, Dia do Entrudo; or, more commonly, Entrudo alone; from the old word entrudar, to feast. Again, in France, we have Carême entrant; or, in the old mediæval form, Carementramnus. In Walloon patois, Mâdicâmentran. In Dansk, on the fame principle as Quinquagesima Sunday, it is, Fastelavnstirstag; in Germany it is usually known as Fastendienstag, Fast Tuesday. In Welsh Shrovetide is Ynyd, which is probably derived from Initium Quadragesimæ, the beginning of Lent, and thus also the Manx, Oie-innyd.

Ash Wednesday

has, in most Churches, its’ name from the benediction and the wearing of ashes on that day. Thus, in German, it is Ascher Mittwoche; in Dansk, Aske Onsdag; in Illyrian, Cisla Srijda; French, Le jour de Cendres; in Spanish, Miercoles de Ceniza; in Portuguefe, Quarta feira de cinza. But, from also being Wednesday in Capite Jejunii, it is, in Navarre, Mercré cabée, like Quinquagesima Sunday. In Germany it was Sometimes Eschtag, sometimes Schürtag, from schüren (now scheuren,) to purify.

Lent itself has three classes of appellations. In the first place, those derived from the season of the year, as our own Lent, akin to the German Lenz, and identical with the Dutch and the Flemish Lente, the season of spring. Next,. those which have their origin from the idea of the fast. So in Russ it is Velekie Post, the Great Fast; or simply Post, the Fast. In Dansk, Fastetid; in German, Fastenzeit. So, in the Eastern Church, it is simply the Megalê Nêsteia. Thirdly, those derived from the number of days it lasts; Quadragesima in Latin, Carême [517] in French. And this is the case in all the Romance languages, and so, also in Welsh, when Lent is Garaways; in Manx, Kargys; In Irish, Corghas. Its weeks, when numerically reckoned, are forwarder by one in the East than in the West. The first week in Lent is, according to the rite of Constantinople, that which follows Quinquagesima: according to the use of Rome it is that which follows the first Sunday in Lent.

The day after Ash Wednesday is named, in some parts of England, Embering Thursday.

The first Sunday in Lent. Good old Durandus labours to explain why this should be called Quadragesima, when, in point of fact, it is not the fortieth, but the two-and-fortieth, day from Easter. His mystical reasons, if not convincing, are at least beautiful: "Because Lent reacheth not save to Maunday Thursday, which is the day of absolution; for by means of Lent well observed, and by true penitence, man Spiritually cometh to the Supper of the LAMB; as it is written: ‘Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the LAMB.’ Again, because the children of Israel, being fed with manna in the desert by the space of forty years, came, through forty encampments, to the Land of Promise. By whose pattern we also, abstaining forty days from the lusts of the body, are refreshed by the word of life, and give ourselves up to prayer, that so we may enter by JESUS CHRIST into the land of the living even as they by JESUS Nave, that is, Joshua, into the Land of Promise." The more common name, however, was from the introit, the Sunday Invocavit. So we often read: "The emperor arrived at Metz on the Tuesday after Invocavit." "The Council was begun on the Wednesday of the week called Invocavit." It was sometimes termed Quintana, because five Sundays intervened between it and Easter. Our old vernacular name was Shrove Sunday. In some parts of Germany it was Alte Fastnacht, Old Fast Night,—a relic of the ancient commencement of Lent on the following day, before the additional four days were added to complete the forty. In the East it is Orthodoxy Sunday, a festival instituted primarily to commemorate the final defeat of the Iconoclasts, but extended to a general commemoration of all triumphs of the Faith.

The first week in Lent was called by the Anglo-Saxons Cyjwuka, that is, Chaste Week.

The second Sunday in Lent is also, from the introit, the Sunday Reminscere. In France it was Sometimes called Transfiguration Sunday, because that event, according to the use of Paris, formed the Gospel of the day.

The third Sunday, or the Sunday Oculi, has not, to our [518] knowledge, any vernacular name in the West, but in the East It is stauroproskunêsimos, from the Adoration of the Cross on that day.

The fourth, or Lætare Sunday, is called both by the East and West, Midlent Sunday. In Germany, by an odd translation of the introft, Fröhlechen Sonntag. In the West it is also termed Refection Sunday, partly because the Gospel for the day relates the feeding of the five thousand, partly because it was observed as a little carnival between the two halves of Lent; as now, the Mi-Carême in Paris is an occasion of great gaiety and splendour. In Rome, it is the Sunday of the Golden Rose, from the benediction of that token of the Pontiff’s approbation. It was frequently termed in Spain the Sunday Mediante, because it exactly halved the old Spanish Lent, and because the Gospel commences with that word.

Thursday of the Midlent Week is, in the Eastern Church, Thursday of the Great Canon, because the hymn of S. Andrew of Crete, known by that name, is then sung.

The fifth Sunday Is Passion Sunday; because then the Western Church begins her more solemn commemoration of the Passion. Then the two glorious hymns of Venuntius Fortunatus, Vexilla Regis prodeunt, and Pange lingua gloriosi prælium certaminis, begin to be said. It was also sometimes called Midlent Sunday, because it follows the Midlent week; there being many instances in the West, where the Eastern example of considering Sunday as the last day of the week may be traced. More properly it was called Midlent Octave. In Germany we find it named Black Sunday, with reference to the veiling of the crosses in black, which takes place at that passage of the Gospel, "JESUS hid Himself, and went out of the temple."

The Saturday of Passion Week, or, as the Eastern Church calls it, Palm Week, was named in the South of Europe, Alms Saturday, it being customary to bestow charity on the poor, in remembrance of our LORD’S words spoken on that day; "Ye have the poor always with you, and whensoever ye will, ye may do them good." In the East, it is appropriately named S. Lazarus’s Saturday, and often, both by East and West, Palm Saturday.

The sixth Sunday In Lent has a variety of names, most of them beautiful and appropriate. In England, Holland, Germany, and Denmark, it is Palm Sunday; in Italy, Olive Sunday; in Spain, Portugal, and France, Branch Sunday; in Welsh, Flower Sunday. In Russia, it is Verknie Voscresenie, Sallow Sunday, from the necessary employment of Sallows in the procession. For a similar reason, it is in various parts of England [519] Willow Sunday, or Yew Sunday. Again, it was named Tradition Sunday, because on that day the Creed was taught to the catechumens who were to be baptized on Easter Eve; Indulgence Sunday, from, an uncertain reason; Palm Easter; the Capitilavium, because it was then usual to wash the heads of the children who were about to be baptized. Flower-Easter; Easter of the Competents, or Pascha petitum, because of the tradition of the Creed to those who were competent for baptism; Hosanna Sunday, or merely Hosanna, in the South of Europe, as it is in the Coptic Church. In Germany, Pluem Sonntag, Bloom Sunday. In the Greek Ritual it is simply, Palm Sunday, though sometimes called S. Lazarus’s Sunday.. In Georgia, by a singular reference to S. Mary Magdalene, it is Bzobifa Aghebifa, Prostitution Sunday. In several, parts of England, and especially in Hertfordshire, it is known as Fig Sunday: and in Hertford itself and the surrounding towns, more figs are sold in the preceding week, than in all the rest of the year together. No doubt the origin of this custom was our LORD’S desiring to eat of the fig tree, on the Monday following that Sunday. Only it is curious .that the tradition should have lasted on through the Middle Ages, when preserved figs must have been at least as great a rarity as natural figs are with us.

The sixth week in Lent is, in all the Romance languages, as with us, Holy Week. The title Passion Week, so often bestowed improperly on it among ourselves, is in Russia given to it by right, Strastnoe Nedevie. The Latin term, the Greater Week, Hebdomada Major, does not seem to have come into vernacular use. In old French it was called, as it sometimes is still, La Sem.aine Peneufe. So Hildebert begins a sermon on the Passion: "Septimana ista, fratres carisimi, ex re nomen habens, vocatur laboriosa, vel, ut vulgo loquuntur, a pænâ, verborustico, pænosa." The most beautiful term, however, as setting forth its abstraction from worldly labours, and its holy quiet, is that by which it is known .in Germany and Denmark, the Still Week. In Germany it is also the Marterworke, and Car or Charwoche, Suffering Week. In the East it is the Great Week, and each day has the same epithet, Great Monday, Great Tuesday, &c. Finally, in many mediæval writers, it is the Authentic Week; in the sense, we suppose, of the week,—the week that is a week indeed; and so we have found it named in a Mayence Missal of 1519. The Welsh call it Wythnos y Grog, the Week of the Cross. Tuesday was in Germany, for an unknown reason, called Blue Tuesday; Wednesday, Krumm Mittwoche, from the confusion (they say) of the Pharisees’ Counsel. In Ireland, Spy Wednesday, with reference to Judas’s mission.


 We come now to Maundy Thursday. It is rather singular that this day should not have derived its vernacular name from its great institution, the Blessed Eucharist. It had, indeed, in mediæval Latin, the name, The Birthday of the Chalice. So Hildebert:—

Hoc in Natali Calicis non est celebratum,
Quando Pascha novum vetus est post Pascha dicatum.

But, in modern languages, this did not obtain. In Dansk we have the name of Skiertorsdag, as, in some parts of England, that of Sheer Thursday, from the old root Skier, signifying pain or affliction. In France it is simply Jeudi Saint, a term likely to be confounded with Ascension Day. In German it is Grüne Donnerstag, Green Thursday; the origin of the term is much disputed. It is probable, however, that the epithet is here to be taken in the sense of unripe, inasmuch as in Slavonia and Carinthia the day is called Raw Thursday, with what reference we are quite unable to explain. In Spain, as with us, it is Juéves del Mandato, from the performance of the mandatum, the washing of the feet. In Portugal it is Quinta Feira de Endoenças, Sickness Thursday, on account of the consecration of the chrism for the unction of the sick. In Welsh, with reference to the mocking of our LORD it is Iau y Cablyd, Thursday of Blasphemy. In Brunswick it was Good Thursday, and fo Boniface IX. in a Bull, speaks of "Bonam quintam feriam in cœnâ Domini." The Swiss call it High Thursday. In some parts of Germany, and in France, White Thursday, from the white colour of that day only in Holy Week. In Austria, finally, it is Antlatz-Tag, Remission Day, from the readmission of penitents into the Church.

Good Friday

is another example of an English appellation that surpasses in beauty the vernacular terms of other languages, except the Flemish, where it is also used. But that we are so completely used to it, we should probably feel what a touching acknowledgment is the name of the work accomplished on that day. In some parts of England it is Char Friday, that is, Passion Friday; a name also in use in Germany. There, however, it is usually called Still Friday. Denmark has a far less appropriate name, Long Friday. It is not a mark of very high devotion, that the length of the office should be that which has given the title to the day. Black Friday, a name common over Southern Germany, gives the popular view of the season, and Holy Friday is the somewhat common-place title adopted in most of the Romance languages. In Welsh, it is Gwener y Corglith, Friday of the Lesson of the Cross.

Easter Eve

has in few modern languages any more recondite name than in our own. In Portugal, it is Sabbado de Alleluia, from the triumphant resumption of the Alleluia in the first vespers of Easter. In some parts of Germany, it is Judas Saturday. In the East, in the same way as the rest of the week, it is Great Saturday, except among the Armenians, who call it Burial Saturday.

With respect to the Sundays in Lent, the rhyme well known in the North of England may deserve a little consideration

Tid : mid : misera :
Carlins : Psalms : Paste-egg-day.

Or, as it is in another version

Tid : mid : merila :
Carl : Palm : and Good-pace-day.

Clearly there is some reference to the various names of the Sundays in Lent: but it is very difficult to fit in the order of the rhyme with that of the Sundays. Misera, is no doubt a simple corruption of Reminiscere, the second Sunday In Lent: in which case, Mid would be the first, and Tid, Quinquagesima. But there is nothing, either in the Introit, Collect, Epistle, or Gospel, which, by any possible chance, could be corrupted into such an abbreviation. Paste-egg-day no doubt ought to be Pasch-egg-day, that is, with reference to the Easter-eggs since distributed here, as all in the East. Carl: Carl Sunday, or Carling Sunday, or, by a. corruption, Caring Sunday, is in the Midland Counties a name for Passion Sunday. Carlings are a particular kind of beans, which, like haricot beans now, were eaten on that Sunday; and, for quite as uncertain a reason as that of their use on S. Maurice’s day in Switzerland. Palm (by corruption Psalms) explains itself.

We come now to the Queen of Festivals. And here the Greek and Latin, in various corruptions, is almost universal; appearing in the French Pâque, in the Portuguese Pascoa, in the Illyrian Paska, and (which is rather strange) in the Danish Paaske, the Welsh Pasg, the Irish Caisc, the Barque Phazko. The English Easter, and the German Ostern. and Austrian Aster-tag, from the goddess Eostre, whose feast fell in April, afford a curious instance how the Church, when it suits her, lays hold of a Pagan word, and adapts it to her highest and holiest purposes. This derivation, however, does not seem to have pleased ritualists. So, for example, the piety of Honorius of Autun is more conspicuous than his etymology in the following sentence:—"Oster is from the East, because as there the Sun ariseth, who, as it [522] were, dies. in his setting; so here the Sun of Righteousness, which is CHRIST, who, as it were, sets in His Death, rises again." Others will deduce from Urstand, the Resurrection. But there are vain attempts to get rid of an etymology, of which, after all, there is nothing to be ashamed. In Manx, it is Yn-chaisht, "The Holy." In the East, the common title is Lampra, the Bright Day. Thus a Cretan ballad, describing the celebration of the principal feasts of the Church:—

Tou Christougennou gia kêri,
Kai tou baiou gia baia
Kai tês Lamprês tên kuriakên
Gia to "Christos anestê."

At Christmas tapers kindle,
At Palmtide Palm-gifts bring;
And then upon Bright Sunday
"The Lord is risen," we sing.

The use is the same in the Russian Church, where Easter Day is the Svietloe Voscresenie.

In Illyrian, Easter Week is, we know not why, Vodena nedielja, Watery-Week, unless it may refer to the Baptism of the Catechumens on Easter Eve.

The Octave of Easter is, with us, Low Sunday, probably from the contrast between the rapturous joy of Easter, and the more ordinary routine to which we now return. At the same time, in every part of the Western Church, it is a Sunday of the first class. In the Latin Church it is the Dominica in Albis, that is, in Albis depositis, because then the recently baptized laid aside their white robes. But the Germans, translating exactly from the Latin, call it der weisse Sontag, for precisely the reason that it is not white. It is as often called the Sunday Quasimodo, from the introit. In the canton of Soleure, in Switzerland, it is Bean Sunday, on account of a certain distribution of beans which then takes place, and by which the translation of some of the Martyrs of the Theban Legion is commemorated. In the East, it is New Sunday, with reference to the Renovation of all things by our Lord’s Resurrection.

Mundi renovatio
Nova parit gaudia:
Resurgente Domino
Conresurgunt omnia.

It is thus named also by the Armenians. The Greeks frequently call it Antipascha, and also S. Thomas’s Sunday, in commemoration of his conversion on that day.


 While In Easter-tide, we must not forget to mention the Annotine Easter. This was a commemoration of the preceding Easter, made on that day in the following Year. There is a sequence for this festival, the only one with which we are acquainted, beginning;

Surgit Christus cum trophæo,
Jam ex Agno factus Leo.

As, however, Annotine Easter fell often in Lent, and sometimes in Passion-tide, it was in most Churches transferred either to the Sunday Quasimodo, or to the fourth Sunday after Easter, or in some cases, to Saturday In the Octave. The origin of its institution seems to have been the. natural wish of those baptized at Easter, to celebrate the first anniversary of their spiritual illumination.

A French proverb about Eastertide is:-

Entre Pâques et la Pentecoûte
Le dessert n’est que d’une croûte.

The Second Sunday after Easter.

This, in the Eastern Church is the Sunday of the Ointment-bearers (tôn murophorôn), from the Gospel. In the Armenian Calendar, it is Green Sunday, because the spring is now, at latest, bursting forth..

The Third Sunday after Easter.

This, for a similar reason to that mentioned above, is, in the East, the Sunday of the Paralytic. Why the Armenian Church calls it Beautiful Sunday, we know not.

The Fourth Sunday after Easter

is, with the Greeks Mid-Pentecost, from dividing the time between Easter and Whit-Sunday. Also, from the Gospel, it is the Sunday of the Samaritan.

The fifth is Rogation Sunday, with the three Rogation Days following. In Germany this is the Betsontag, with the same meaning: in other languages the Latin term seems almost invariably followed. The Week is in Germany the Betwoche; in Anglo-Saxon, Gangwuca. The Oriental Church, retaining the old rule of admitting no fast between Easter and Pentecost, has no such season, and therefore no such name. The Gotho-Hispanic Church, wishing to observe the Rogations, and yet unwilling to break the canon, transferred them either to the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in the week of Pentecost, or else to the Ides or to the Kalends of December. In the East, Rogation Sunday is the Sunday of the Blind Man, from the Gospel.

Ascension Day

has not many vernacular names. In Germany, it is ufually Uffarts-tag; sometimes Non-Tag, because Nones [524] were kept with singular splendour, in consequence of the tradition that, at this hour, our LORD ascended into Heaven. In some parts of the south of France it was termed Bread Thursday, from a distribution of bread which then was made to the poor; probably with reference to that verse of the Psalm, "Thou art gone up on high: Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men." In England it has been known as Bounds Thursday; from beating the bounds of the parish, transferred, by a corruption of Rogation processions, to this day. In Manx, it is Jasdyl, which they derive from Jas, GOD, and theill, the world, because GOD on that day went up to Heaven from the world. In Russia, they use an especial term for this day, instead of the more ordinary word for Ascension: calling it Voznesenie, and not Voschojdenie. The Eastern Church knows of no especial title for the festival, except that, in Cappadocia, from an uncertain reason, it was the Episozomene.

The Sundav after Ascension

is so called all over the West. But In the East it is termed the Sunday of the Three Hundred and Eighteen, from the commemoration which then takes place of the Fathers of Nicæa.

Whit Sunday.

It is curious that this name should be so mistaken. It is neither White Sunday (for, in truth, the colour is red) nor Huit Sunday, as the eighth after Easter; but simply by the various corruptions of the German Pfingsten, the Danish Pintse, the various patois, Pingsten, Whingsten, &c., derived from Pentecost. The corruption is easy and plain enough: if more proof were wanted, note—

1. That as it is not Easter Sunday, but Easter Day, so it is not Whit Sunday, but Whitfun Day.

2. Although the barbarous corruptions of Whit Monday and Whit Tuesday, are now in vogue (they do not occur in the Prayer-book), yet no one ventures to speak of Whit Week or Whit-tide, or Whit-holidays, but Whitsun Week (just as Pfingsten Woche in German), &c. If the derivations were from White, was it utterly impossible that the unmeaning syllable should here have got in? Who ever heard of Easter-sun Week, or Eastersun holidays?

The Romance languages have, for the most part, vernacularized the Latin name. But in Spain the day is usually called the Fiesta del Espirito Santo; and in Portugal, by the use of the word Pascha we already noticed, Pascoa do Espirito Santo. In Italy it is Pasqua Rosata, because the roses are now in full flower. The German name will suggest to some of our readers Göethe’s beautiful imitation of Reynard the Fox:—


 Pfingsten, das liebliche Fest, war gekommen: es grünnten und blüthen Feld und Wald: auf Hügeln und Höhn, in Büschen und Hecken, Uebten ein fröhliches Lied die neuermunterten Vögel, &c.

From the season, German every-day speech names a number of common objects: thus, green geese are Pentecost geese; the peony is the Pentecost rose; broom is Pentecost-blossom. In Russ it is Troitzie Den, Trinity Day; probably as filling up the commemoration of the blessed Trinity. In the East it is, of course, Pentecost.

Ember Wednesday in Whitsun Week is called High Wednesday in Germany; Good Wednesday in the Holstein, because, though a Fast, it has so many attributes of a feast.

The Friday in the Octave is, among the Nestorians, named Golden Friday. For that day of the week being a high commemoration throughout the year, this, in its most sacred season, is supposed to bear the palm from the others; and hence its title.

It was not to be expected that Trinity Sunday, as a day of such late institution, should have left much trace in modern languages. In old French it was popularly called the King of Sundays; also Blessed Sunday. In the Eastern Church it is All Saints’ Sunday, that commemoration being fixed for this day. The office itself was long unsettled in the Western Church. The original collect for the First Sunday after Pentecost was that which begins, "O GOD, the strength of all them that put their trust in thee," and it is still retained in the Roman Missal as an adjunct to the festival of the Trinity. The German Church was very tenacious of the old rite. Some celebrated the new festival on the second Sunday after Pentecost, so as to leave the octave clear; large numbers transferred it to the Sunday next before Advent: and this was, we believe, retained in some parts of Rhineland to the last century, if, indeed, there be not even now a double commemoration. So it was at Orleans till the Sixteenth century.

Corpus Christi

also, as a late festival, comes under the same head as the last. That, in England, as abroad, it was called from the Body of GOD, the vulgar oath still remains to tell. The French Church has abbreviated it still further, into the Fête Dieu.

The Sundays following Trinity are, in the Roman Calendar, as every one knows, called from Pentecost. But in the Sarum, and in most German Missals, they are named, as we name them, from Trinity.

We may observe that in the north of England, and especially in Yorkshire, the Sunday within the Octave of the Patron, or [526] Wake Saint, is called after his name. Thus, at Ripon, Wi!frid Sunday is a very great holiday.

It merely remains to notice the other holidays which have received an English vernacular name.

Of these Lady Day shall be the first. That this term was fixed to the Annunciation and not to the Assumption, shows how, in the earlier times of England, the present respective importance of the festivals was reversed. In Dansk it is the same, Vor Fruedag; but in other European tongues it is simply the Annunciation. In Welsh it is Gwyl Vair y Cyhydedd, the Festival of Mary of the Equinox; in Manx, prettily enough, Laa’I-Moirrey-my-Sansh, the Day of Mary’s being whispered to.

    Lammas Day,

the Feast of S. Peter ad Vincula. It would be most natural to derive this from Loaf-mas, that is, the benediction of the new bread. But when we find the first of August termed in Welsh Dydd degwm wyn, Lamb-tithing day, it is clear that the easier derivative, Lamb-mas Day, is also the true one. The Manx name has in all likelihood the fame origin; it is Laa’l Lhuanys. Lhuan is any creature, more especially a lamb or calf, which comes out of due season. It was probably the absence of an octave, as compared with the great festival of S. Peter, that led to the proverbial idiom, At latter Lammas; that is, never; or, as the Danes say, on the 30th of February. In Germany, the day is Kettenfeier, the Feast of the Chains,—a literal translation of the Latin.

    The same feeling which suggested the English benediction showed itself in all the wine countries on the sixth of August. This was the benediction of the new grapes;—and the rite was often performed, as at S. Martin of Tours, by squeezing a grape into the chalice after consecration. So we have Le jour des raisins; in Germany, Traubentag; in the Moselle districts, Liebfrauenmilchtag, the Day of the Milk of our Dear Lady (from the celebrated wine so called). The Benediction of the grapes took place on the fame day in the East.

    An instance is within our knowledge of the endowment of a Post-Reformation Sermon, "to be preached on Lady Day in harvest," i.e. on the Assumption.


Monday is, properly speaking, the Monday after S. Crispin: a great holiday. In Dansk It is Frimandag, Holiday Monday: why the Germans call it Blue Monday we know not.


or All Hallows, or All Holland, has scarcely any peculiar name elsewhere than among ourselves. In Germany it is simply Allerheiligen; and in the Romance languages, a pure translation of Festum Omnium Sanctorum.

    All Souls.

This, in Welsh, is Gwyl y meirw, the Festival of [527] the Dead. and sometimes, more poetically, Gwyl cenad y meirw, the Festival of the Embassy of the Dead. In Spanish it is El dia de las animas; in Portuguese, more curiously, it is the Dia dos finados, from finado, a dead body. In Italy it is the Giorno de’ morti. In Germany, precisely as with us.

    S. Thomas’s Eve is, in Manx, Oie’l-fingan, the Eve of Cliffs; because men then went out on the cliffs to shoot venison for the approaching Christmas Festival.

    The list might, undoubtedly, with great research, and wider opportunity, be well-nigh indefinitely extended. In Short, wherever the Church was early planted, there her influence over domestic language will appear very strongly; where she was not established till a late period, there such vernacularisms are scarcely, or not at all, perceptible. This, we believe, is true to a great extent in Bohemia, more so in Poland, and still more so in Lithuania. But the examples which have been produced will not have been given in vain, if they lead any one to consider how completely the Church should mingle herself with the household words of her children, and should, even in this sense, become all things to all men.



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* When the Dominical letter is A, there are, in fact, seven Sundays in the Mozarabic Advent. But in that case the seventh falls on Christmas Eve, and the office is of that day entirely.