Holy Innocents, Feast of the

also called  Childermas , or  Innocents' Day 

      festival celebrated in the Christian churches in the West on December 28 and in the Eastern churches on December 29 and commemorating the massacre of the children by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus (Jesus Christ) (Matthew 2:16–18). These children were regarded by the early church as the first martyrs (martyr), but it is uncertain when the day was first kept as a saint's day. At first it may have been celebrated with Epiphany, but by the 5th century it was kept as a separate festival. In Rome it was a day of fasting and mourning.

      It was one of a series of days known as the Feast of Fools (Fools, Feast of), and the last day of authority for boy bishops (boy bishop). Parents temporarily abdicated authority. In convents and monasteries the youngest nun and monk were allowed to act as abbess and abbot for the day. These customs, which mocked religion, were condemned by the Council of Basel (Basel, Council of) (1431).

      In medieval England the children were reminded of the mournfulness of the day by being whipped in bed in the morning; this custom survived into the 17th century.

      The day is still observed as a feast day and, in Roman Catholic countries, as a day of merrymaking for children.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Holy Innocents Church, Southwater — Holy Innocents Church is the Parish church of Southwater, Sussex built in 1849, whose followers are Anglican. The Vicar is Dominic Newstead, who replaced Phillip Jones in 2005. The church itself follows the customary shape of the Cross, with the… …   Wikipedia

  • Holy Innocents — • Fairly long article on these children, and the commemoration of their martyrdom. Both Western and Eastern Christianity Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Holy Innocents     Holy Innocents …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Holy Innocents' Orthodox Church — Holy Innocents’ Orthodox Church CATHOLICATE EMBLEM Patron Founded 1860 Type Church …   Wikipedia

  • Holy Innocents' Day — n. a religious feast day (Dec. 28) honoring the children slain at Herod s command: Matt. 2:16 …   English World dictionary

  • Holy Innocents' Day — (28 December)    This feast honours the babies massacred at Bethlehem on Herod s orders (Matthew 2: 1 18); also formerly called Childermas. Although falling within the joyful Christmas season, it was thought an extremely unlucky day on which one… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Holy Innocents' Day —    A Festival of the Church observed on the third day after Christmas, December 28th, in memory of the children of Bethlehem, whose death Herod caused, and who have always been regarded as the Infant Martyrs of the Christian Church, for that not… …   American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • The Gallican Rite —     The Gallican Rite     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Gallican Rite     This subject will be treated under the following six heads:     I. History and Origin; II. MSS. and Other Sources; III. The Liturgical Year; IV. The Divine Office; V. The… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Feast of Fools — The Feast of Fools, known also as the festum fatuorum , festum stultorum , festum hypodiaconorum , or fête des fous , are the varying names given to popular medieval festivals regularly celebrated by the clergy and laity from the fifth century… …   Wikipedia

  • Feast of Fools — • A celebration marked by much license and buffoonery, which in many parts of Europe, and particularly in France, during the later middle ages took place every year on or about the feast of the Circumcision (1 Jan.) Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • The Twelve Days of Christmas (song) — The Twelve Days of Christmas Roud #68 Music by Traditional with additions by Frederic Austin Published c. 1780 Language English; may be French in origin Form Cumulative song The Twelve Days of Christmas is an English Christmas carol that… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.