Apparently the snarky anti-Catholic author of “The Popish Kingdom,” a satirical poem about stuff Catholics do, went into a suspiciously exact amount of detail about pre-Reformation English Catholic customs for various holidays. The first volume of Hone’s Every-Day Book quotes this.
And apparently it used to be a thing to:
- Eat some kind of fowl on Ascension Thursday, after Mass, because of the general sky/heavens theme of the day.
- Make an effigy of Satan, throw him down from a height after setting him on fire, and then beat him up with sticks, as part of the post-Mass fun in the churchyard or at home. (This goes with the idea that Satan was bound and his Eden mischief reversed, by all of Christ’s actions during His earthly life.) Then pass out cookies.
- Tie bags of water to the rafters of your house, with quick-release strings so that you can douse whomever you feel like. (Water games are traditional throughout Europe, and were justified on holy days during the heat of the summer by claiming that they “reminded people of their Baptism.” Yeah, that’s a good excuse, and we’ll take that.)
The poem says, “With laughter great are all things done.” Well, we can’t have THAT.