Painted in 1635 by David Teniers the Younger, “Peasants Celebrating Twelfth Night” hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Twelfth Night will be celebrated with an ecumenical church service at the Penfield Homestead Museum Sunday, Jan. 8, at 3 p.m. at the Penfield Church.
continued Rooms in the museum are furnished with original pieces once belonging to the Penfields. Other historic furniture is also on display.
Ironville was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The homes along the main street were all constructed in the early 19th Century.
Those buildings, besides the museum, include the Harwood House, a church, a parsonage, a boarding house and homes and barns that have been in use for 150 years and longer.
The Twelfth Night tradition dates to the Middle Ages.
In early times, Christmas was 12 days of celebration, starting on Dec. 25 and culminating on the 12th night, which was considered “Christmas Day.”
Hence, the song “Twelve Days of Christmas” and the play “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare.
In 529, Roman Emperor Justinian named Christmas to be a civic holiday. Work and public business not associated with the celebration of the holiday was strictly forbidden. In 563, a decree from the Council of Braga declared that fasting on Christmas was prohibited and in 567 the Council of Tours elected the 12 days from Dec. 25 to Epiphany to be sacred.
As a result, in the Middle Ages Christmas was not one day to take off work and spend with family, but 12 days of celebration. In older times, the “Twelfth Night” brought great festivities.
In some areas of the world, it is still proper to erect a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and leave it up until a week after New Year for this reason.