Holy Innocents' Day


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 must avoid beginning any important work. It was particularly feared by fishermen, and by Cornish housewives, who would not wash clothes or do any scrubbing and cleaning. Numerous communities marked the day with muffled peals on the church bells. The ill luck was often felt to extend all through the year to whichever day of the week the feast had fallen on (Opie and Tatem, 1989: 70).
   The only lighter side of the day was the notion that children should be indulged more than usual. In the early years of the 19th century, for instance, children were allowed to play in the church at Exton (Rutland) on Innocents' Day (Leicestershire N&Q 1: 293; quoted in Billson, 1895: 96), and William Henderson reports it an appropriate day for children's treats and parties (Henderson, 1879: 72). In places where there was a boy bishop in pre-Reformation times, this date marked the climax and conclusion of his term of office by a procession and a church service at which he preached.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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  • Holy Innocents' day — Holy Ho ly, a. [Compar. {Holier}; superl. {Holiest}.] [OE. holi, hali, AS. h[=a]lig, fr. h[ae]l health, salvation, happiness, fr. h[=a]l whole, well; akin to OS. h?lag, D. & G. heilig, OHG. heilac, Dan. hellig, Sw. helig, Icel. heilagr. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • 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 — noun December 28, commemorating Herod s slaughter of the children of Bethlehem • Syn: ↑Innocents Day • Hypernyms: ↑Christian holy day …   Useful english dictionary

  • Holy Innocents' Day — December 28, a day of religious observance commemorating the slaughter of the children of Bethlehem by Herod s order. Also called Innocents Day. * * * …   Universalium

  • 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

  • Holy Innocents' Day — noun 28 December, a day of Christian religious observance commemorating the slaughter of the children of Bethlehem by Herod s order; Childermas. Matthew 2:16 …   Australian English dictionary

  • Innocents' Day — noun December 28, commemorating Herod s slaughter of the children of Bethlehem • Syn: ↑Holy Innocents Day • Hypernyms: ↑Christian holy day …   Useful english dictionary

  • Innocents' Day — /ˈɪnəsənts deɪ/ (say inuhsuhnts day) noun → Holy Innocents Day …   Australian English dictionary

  • Innocents' Day. — See Holy Innocents Day. * * * …   Universalium

  • Innocents' Day. — See Holy Innocents Day …   Useful english dictionary