Mardi Gras (In Elizabethan England)

Mjccmc01 at Mjccmc01 at
Mon Feb 19 09:34:41 PST 1996

Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday as it was (and is still) called in the
English-speaking countries, was the festival that was celebrated on the
Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  According to Daily Life In Elizabethan England
by John Singley (a really fabulous, affordable and highly recommended book):

"This holiday was the last day before the fasting season of Lent.  On the
Continent, this day was celebrated with wild abandon, reflected in the modern
Mardi Gras.  The English version was more subdued but still involved ritual
feasting and violence.  (Doesn't this sound like an event?)  On this day it
was traditional to eat fritters and pancakes.  It was also a day for playing
football (a game much rougher than any of its modern namesakes), and for the
sport of "cockthrashing" or "Cockshys."  In cockthrashing, the participants
tied a cock to a stake and threw sticks at it; they payed the owner of the
cock a few pence for each try, and a person who could knock down the cock and
pick it up before the cock regained its feet won the cock as a prize.  In
towns, this was often a day for the apprentices to riot; their violence was
often aimed against those who transgressed sexual mores, especially
prostitutes.  The two days previous were sometimes called Shrove Monday and
Shrove Sunday."

Aubrey, you may cheerfully ignore that apprentice business.

I believe I can find some information regarding Mardi Gras celebration in
Italy if anyone is interested, but I knew right where this was.  Reply if you
interested and I'll try to find it.

Tivar, I hope this restores your faith in our educational system (not that it

Siobhan Ni'Breoghan Fitzlloyd
Have a great Shrove Tuesday and stay away from roosters, apprentices and

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