Monday, April 24, 2006

Hocktide

I missed remarking on Low Sunday, i.e., Dominica in Albis, which was yesterday. And Mercy Sunday, also yesterday, didn't get a mention. (But it did get observed. Mary and I went down to St Peter Chanel at 3 p.m. for the ceremony -- but it had been held earlier. So we prayed it by ourselves - at which point confessions began. So we got confession on the day itself. The Lord can be so unexpectedly generous.)

But I am not too late for Hocktide, which is today and tomorrow:

For in a hard-working society, it is rare and even subversive to celebrate too much, to revel and keep on reveling: to stop whatever you’re doing and rave, pray, throw things, go into trances, jump over bonfires, drape yourself in flowers, stay up all night, and scoop the froth from the sea.

. . . .

In the English tradition, Hocktide is the Monday and Tuesday following the second Sunday after Easter (Low Sunday), though the Tuesday is considered the main day.

. . . .

Long before the Industrial Revolution when people became ensnared in the long working week that still prevails for the benefit of our idle masters, work was hard but feast days were plenty. Weekends, as yet uninvented, would never have been enough for our forebears. As one sees each day in the Almy, scarcely a week – scarcely three days – went by in medieval Europe without a holiday with feasting and frolicking. (There are still societies today clinging to such lifestyles in defiance of globalization’s juggernaut, but they are labelled ‘primitive’.)

Hocktide was for our Western ancestors such a day of high festivity and pranks. The best known of these was ‘ransoming’.

On the Monday, men would go out and about and capture women, binding them with cords and holding them for small ransoms, which was usually given to church restoration funds or charity (though a kiss was often accepted). There was equality in these fun and games, however – on the Tuesday the women could take their revenge on the men in the same way. The meaning of the word is unknown, but the custom can be traced back to the 13th century. In 1450 a bishop of Worcester inhibited these "Hoctyde" practices. It prevailed in all parts of England, but pretty much died out early in the 1700s.

Lots more here.

And now, having spread that link around the internet, we sit back and await the "Hocktide Defense" to the federal crime of kidnapping, with what success we can only imagine. We would laugh at the absurdity of it but we live in the 9th circuit.