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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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The Twelve Days

The Twelve Days

(p.9) 2 The Twelve Days
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how the cycle of midwinter celebration established in the early part of the Middle Ages had developed in Britain by the end of that period. The opening of it, Christmas itself, began very early indeed for the devout. The book of ceremonies most widely used in England and in Scotland was the Sarum Use, compiled at Salisbury Cathedral. This directed that the day should have three masses, the first of which, Matins, commenced before dawn. At the end of this the genealogy of Christ, from St Matthew's Gospel, was sung by a man standing in the rood loft, the carved wooden platform over the top of the nave that supported the rood, an image of the crucified Christ. Fifteenth- and sixteenth-century churchwardens' accounts, therefore, often contain payments for candles and tapers, made or bought in bulk for Christmas morn.

Keywords:   cycle, midwinter, Middle Ages, Britain, Christmas, England, Scotland, Sarum Use, Matins, Christ

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