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Fools, Feast of

Fools, Feast of, burlesque religious festival of the Middle Ages. It occurred during the Christmas and New Year's revels, on or near New Year's Day. In many places a Lord of Misrule ruled over the revels. In France and England the ceremonies were under the charge of the Boy-Bishop, a young man fitted out as a high clergyman. During the feast, lower clergymen and minor officials parodied the sacred rites and customs of the Church. A similar burlesque, the Feast of the Ass, celebrating the donkey on which Mary and the Child Jesus rode, was widespread in France. Such burlesques were generally put down by the 15th cent.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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