What is Renaissance
The word Renaissance is an Italian word that means re-birth or regeneration or reawakening. It was a revolution reviving the spirit of Greek and Latin learning. This revival of classical knowledge is called the Renaissance. It conveys the idea that for centuries. It shows a larger change in point of view.
The Renaissance was essentially a European movement that originated in Italy and then spread gradually to other countries of western and northern Europe like Germany, France, and England. It was a glorious age in which men of genius like Shakespeare, Spenser, Bacon, Marlowe contributed a lot in English literature.
The English Renaissance has many important features. Some of the important features are—
Intellectual rebirth, thirst for knowledge, freedom of thought and action, humanism, scientific outlook, love for beauty, love for adventure, love for the remote past, the spirit of discovery, individualism, desire for unlimited wealth, earthly pomp and power and so on.
1)The most important feature of the Renaissance is intellectual rebirth or regeneration. It conveys the idea that for centuries. Europe had been dead intellectually and then by some means, had recovered life. The rebirth or regeneration came to Italy first and then to other European countries.
2)Freedom of thought and action is another important feature of the Renaissance. An awakening of the minds of men, freedom of thought, and action were the dominant passions of the Renaissance.
3)Thirst for knowledge is another important feature of the Renaissance. It was an age of great curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Man desire to know the unknown and to see the unseen.
4)Scientific Outlook: During the Renaissance period, European explorers and scientists contributed significantly to the development of inquiry.
5)Humanism is another important feature of the Renaissance. During the Elizabethan age, there was the revival of classical learning which passion became with the people. The rediscovery of Greek and Roman antiquity gave birth to a new culture and that is called Humanism.
6)Love for adventure: The age Renaissance was an age of great curiosity and love for adventure. During this age, people show their love for adventure. In the 15th century, Columbus reached America and Vasco da Gama reached India. This kind of love for adventure influences the Renaissance greatly.
7)Love for beauty is another feature of the Renaissance. Here beauty signifies the beauty of culture, the beauty of the civilized world the beauty of women, and so on. We notice this kind of love for beauty in Renaissance literature.
8)The desire for unlimited power and wealth is another important feature of the Renaissance. England’s trade and Commerce improved and the country grew rich and prosperous. Dr.Faustus by Christopher Marlowe is one of the best examples of the Renaissance play in which the hero sold his soul to Lucifer only to get earthly wealth and power.
To sum up, we can say that the Renaissance has many features. Renaissance literature reflects the Renaissance features very clearly.
Elizabethan Festivals, Holidays, and Celebrations
During the Elizabethan era, the years were broken up by annual holidays just as they are in the present age. People looked forward to every holiday because their opportunities for leisure were limited. Time away from hard work was restricted to periods after church on Sundays, and so for the most part, leisure and festivities took place on a public church holy day. Every month had its holiday, some of which are listed below:
January: The first Monday of the second week (any time between seventh and 14th) of January was Plough Monday. It celebrated returning to work after the Christmas celebrations and the New Year.
February: February second was Candlemas. This was the day when all Christmas decorations were burnt. It included candlelight and torchlight processions. February 14th was Valentine’s Day. Sending gifts to one another was a Pagan tradition that was still carried on under a Christian guise.
March: Sometime between the third and ninth of March was Shrove Tuesday. This was apprentices’ favorite holiday, because they were allowed to run amok in the city in mobs, wreaking havoc and general mayhem. This was acceptable because it was supposedly cleansing the city of its vices before Lent. All the foods which would be forbidden during Lent were eaten up. They would also tie a cockerel to a stack and stone it to death, simply because the cockerel was the symbol of France. The day after Shrove Tuesday was Ash Wednesday. This was the first day of Lent when everyone began to abstain from eating certain foods, such as meat. A Jack-o-lent was set up in each city, a sort of scarecrow on which one could take out one’s annoyance at being deprived of certain foods.
April: The first of April was All Fool’s Day. This was a day for tricks, jests, jokes, and a general day of the jester.
May: The first day of May was May Day. This was a big and much-appreciated festival. It was one of the few Pagan festivals that had nothing to do with the Church. It was celebrated by sending the youth into the woods for a nighttime party. They did not return until the next morning, bringing with them a large tree trunk, which was put up as the phallic “maypole.” The maypole was decorated and then feasting, dancing, and games took place around it.
June: On the 21st of June the people celebrated the summer solstice. This involved a large bonfire, and people celebrated the longest day and shortest night of the year. Mummers told stories and performed plays.
July: St. Swithin’s Day was celebrated on the 15th of July. This was a very minor celebration, honoring the legend that after the ceremony of moving St. Swithin’s bones, it rained for 40 days.
August: On the first of August, Lammastide, or Lammas Day, perhaps derived from “loof-mas,” was the festival of the first wheat harvest of the year. People decorated horses with garlands played games like apple-bobbing and had processions of candles.
September: The 29th of September was Michaelmas. This celebrated St. Michael with a traditional feast of goose or chicken.
October: The 25th of October was St. Crispin’s Day. Bonfires, revels, and an elected “King Crispin” were all featured in this celebration. St. Crispin’s Day is noted in William Shakespeare‘s play King Henry V, when the king gives a famous speech to encourage his men when they are heavily outnumbered in battle, saying that they will all be remembered on St. Crispin’s day. On the 28th was the Lord Mayor’s Show, which still takes place today in London. The 31st of October was Hallowmas of Halloween (All-hallow’s Eve). This was a Celtic festival celebrating the end of the Celtic year. The souls of the dead supposedly returned to walk the earth. Various masks were worn and bonfires lit to ward off evil spirits.
November: The day after Halloween, November first, was All Soul’s Day. This was a Christian holiday, and also involved bonfires. The 17th of November was the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne, celebrated even one hundred years after the Queen’s death.
December: The biggest and perhaps most loved festival of all was an entire 12 days long. The Christmas season, the 12 days of Christmas, started on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve, and lasted until Epiphany on the sixth of January. A Lord of Misrule was selected, and he selected a council to help him. All together communities planned the parties and managed merrymaking. A King of the Bean was sometimes selected, by cooking a bean into a cake, and the finder of the bean became the king. A pea might also be cooked in, and a Queen of the Pea chosen as well, both regardless of gender. Carolers would set out to sing for money, and mummers came out to perform. Youths might run around with a wooden cup or bowl, asking the householders to fill it with ale, a coin, or some food for them: it was considered bad luck to refuse.
Other youths might set out with a large bowl of spiced ale with roasted apples, offering the lord of the house a drink of the cider for a coin. Much begging was carried on during the season, and generosity was expected. The lords were expected to fill their houses with as much food as they could. Marchpane, or marzipan, was exceptionally popular. A yule log, a large portion of tree trunk expected to burn throughout the season, was brought in. All greenery, most notably holly and ivy was used. Gifts were presented at New Year instead of Christmas Day. The largest party was held by the Lord of Misrule on Epiphany and thus ended the Christmas season.