Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/221

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171
CELEBRATION OF THE CALENDAR

others struck him, he trying to guess who had dealt the blow. Shoe the Mare was another boisterous Christmas sport. "One of the players was chosen to be the wild mare, and the others chased him about the room with the object of shoeing him." (Bullen.)

The Lord of Misrule or Abbot of Unreason is familiar to all readers of Sir Walter Scott. Of this personage, who figured, but with less importance, in the rites of Whitsuntide, was one of the most important officers of the Christmas celebration. "In the feast of Christmas," says Stow, "there was in the King's house wheresoever he lodged, a Lord of Misrule, or Master of merry desports, and the like had ye in the house of every nobleman of honour, or good worship, were he spiritual or temporal. Amongst the which, the Mayor of London and either of the Sheriffs had their several Lords of Misrule, ever contending without quarrel or offence, who should make the rarest pastimes to delight the beholders. These lords, beginning their rule on Alhallow Eve, continue the same till the morrow after the feast of the Purification, commonly called Candlemas Day. In which space there was fine and subtle disguisings, masques and mummeries, with playing at cards for counters, nayles and points, in every house, more for pastime than for gain." And