Goblin Alert!

Posted By on February 2, 2017

No, I haven’t gone mad and I’m not drunk, I just felt that it was my civic responsibility to alert you to the risk of goblins today.

Now I know that the shops have been full of Easter eggs since New Year [sigh…], but the Christmas season does not officially end until the Feast of Candlemas, or the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, which is today.

“What’s that got to do with goblins?”, I hear you ask. Well, here’s a poem from the 17th-century poet, Robert Herrick, “Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve”, to explain:

“Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe ;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall :
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind :
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
So many goblins you shall see.”

This poem is about making sure you take down all of your Christmas decorations – don’t leave that lurking bit of mistletoe! – on Candlemas Eve (last night) otherwise “so many goblins you shall see”. There’s still time, I’m sure it’s still 1st February somewhere in the world!

Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

Click here to read more about Candlemas over on the Tudor Society.

Picture: Aquatint print of goblins by Francisco Goya from “Los Caprichos”, 1799. Wikipedia.

11 thoughts on “Goblin Alert!”

  1. Globerose says:

    Hi Claire,

    Is this a very old tradition (16th c?) and if so, when did Twelfth Night come in? Do you know. I am confused now.

    1. Claire says:

      Twelfth Night and Epiphany brought the Twelve Days of Christmas to a close and workers went back to work on Plough Monday, but the church season of Christmastide doesn’t come to an end until Candlemas and you can keep decorations up until then if you like, great for those of us who don’t quite get the Christmas tree down by Twelfth Night!

      1. Claire says:

        So, the liturgical season, as opposed to the festive season.

    2. Claire says:

      Here’s a good article on it – Christmastide and Candlemas. I like the idea that Christmastide was 40 days, like Lent being 40 days.

      1. Christine says:

        Yes I like the idea to, January and February are such awful months it’s nice to know there’s still a bit of magic in the air, Christmas really is an old pagan festival that pre dates Christianity and the boughs that were brought into the houses represented the summer seasons, when the earth was fruitful and everything grew, back then the early Britons worshipped their own gods, one was a goddess of winter who appeared once the summer had ended and so as the myth says, imprisoned summer in her bower and everything faded and died, and winter walked the earth then summer would break free and the grass appeared and the flowers and the animals came out of hiding, and the trees had blossom and the sun appeared, I think it’s a lovely myth really.

  2. Globerose says:

    Thank you Claire! This goes to prove you are never too old to learn and this is wholly new to me for sure and I wonder, how many others.
    But, have to say, now that christmas hits the shops in October, and decorations are going up earlier and earlier in domestic homes, Twelth Night often can’t come too soon for me!!

    1. Claire says:

      That’s what I like about living here, Christmas doesn’t start until well into December and the main part of Christmas is Epiphany. It’s silly that the shops in countries like the UK start selling Christmas things in the summer and Easter eggs in January.

      1. Christine says:

        It’s so annoying, in September Xmas cards appear in the shops, in fact iv seen some in August and right after Xmas Easter eggs appear on the shelves with bunnies and furry chicks, you just don’t want it, when I was a kid xmas only started about a fortnight before and it was much nicer then.

        1. Anyanka says:

          They do Christmas at the cottage round here. It’s July/August.

          I have no idea why as most cottages round here are 4 season cottages.

        2. Claire says:

          I remember when I first moved to Spain we went to a big shopping centre the weekend before Christmas and it was so quiet, no queues, no madness, just a few decorations. Our children don’t break up from school until just before Christmas (23rd Dec the December just gone) and Christmas is quite low-key here (a big family meal on Christmas Eve but nothing on Christmas Day), with Epiphany and the coming of the Kings being the big event, so you see children out with their new bikes and toys on 6th January. Although Christmas is catching on here, with Father Christmas gaining in popularity, I like the fact that it’s less commercialised here.

  3. Banditqueen says:

    I know the liturgical calendar has Christmas over six weeks, but I didn’t know we still had Candlemas. I thought it had been abolished. But then I have been out of touch of late with Church, with health things so have forgotten stuff. It was nice to see the nativity up in the church when my niece got married two weeks ago this weekend. There were some fairy lights and candles, made it very nice. To all in those parts of America who celebrate…Happy Ground Hog Day. It’s a bit windy wild here at present but mild, but we are getting near to Spring. Very interesting. Hope I don’t find any goblins.

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