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Shakespeare & Beyond

Happy Holidays from Elizabethan England

Elizabethan Holidays
Elizabethan Holidays

Some people believe that the Renaissance image of “Merry England,” a land of festivity and mirth, was a myth created during the Stuart reign by people nostalgic for the good old days before the Puritans put the kibosh on fun. But scholar Ronald Hutton, who pored through records of church ales and other gatherings, finds more than a grain of truth in the idea. “The early and mid 1560s were a notable time for old-fashioned merry-making,” he writes, adding that some of the surviving menus “make mouth-watering reading for a hungry researcher.”


Thank you for your enlightening article. I’m writing a story about an Elizabethan manor renovated in the 19th century, and I have these poor, stuffy Victorians trying to figure out how to make merry the Olde Fashioned way without making fools of themselves. This helped!

Catherine — October 18, 2017