Queen of the Bean

The Green Man and Queen Pea, from the Twelfth Night celebrations at the Globe in London, a few years back

It’s the Twelfth Day– do you know where your golden bean is? Traditionally, the head of revelry for this day was chosen by a bean secreted away in a slice of cake, distributed at random or in some cases by a child hiding under the table.

Twelfth Cake-- once a work of confectioners art.

This custom is still celebrated in New Orleans but is no longer part of the seasonal celebrations in the UK, except in some instances of folk revivals.  A king chosen by whim– it’s the stuff of fairy tales as well as the Roman Saturnalia.  It was difficult for me to imagine the psychic necessity of such a celebration, coming from a land where everyone is presumed equal.  Even if the reality in the US is very different, the philosophical idea rules many interactions between people.  Not so in the UK, where rigid ideas of class permeate the culture.

Today is considered “Old Christmas Day” and the last hurrah of the Yule celebrations.  Traditionally, all the decorations are taken down– it’s bad luck to leave them up.  And, in the village of Haxey in Lincolnshire, the Fool and his Boggans corral the inhabitants and bystanders in the mad Hood Game, but that is the subject for another post.

Coffee with your twelfth cake? Queen of the Bean set by Feral Strumpet on Etsy.

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