The Lord of Misrule: Twelfth Night Traditions

lord of misruleTwelfth Night festivities were very popular in mediaeval and Tudor England, where it would mark the end of the winter festival started on Halloween, or All Hallows Eve. The common theme of the celebrations was similar to “opposite day”, where the normal order of things are reversed. On this day, the king and his nobles would become peasants, and the peons would rule the town. At sundown on January 5th (sundown was the end of the day in those times), the King Cake was eaten. This cake would contain one uncooked bean, and the person who got the bean was labeled “The Lord of Misrule”, and was declared ruler of the feast until the end of the festival, at midnight. The tradition dates back to festivals such as the Celtic celebrations of Samhain and the Ancient Roman Saturnalia. The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down.