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The New International Encyclopædia/Ass, Feast of the

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ASS, Feast of the. A burlesque ceremony highly popular in northern France during the Middle Ages. It was of the nature of a parody on the service of the Church, but seems to have been instituted in good faith and without any intentional irreverence. It degenerated, however, into scurrilous indecency, and was prohibited by the ecclesiastical authorities in the Fifteenth Century. It was variously celebrated in different places; thus, e.g. at Rouen it occurred shortly before Christmas, and consisted in the representation of a little farce, in the principal scene of which Balaam's ass appeared before the altar of the cathedral and uttered a prophecy of the early coming of Christ. See Abbot of Joy.