The Shining of the Sun in the Twelve Nights of Christmas

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A Significant corpus of Anglo-Saxon prognostics survives in various eleventh- and twelfth-century manuscripts. Until recently these texts have been erroneously and superficially associated with magic and pagan worship, without regard to the cultural context of the manuscripts which contain them. Scholars have shown a deeper interest in more obviously mainstream monastic works such as homilies and saints’ lives, on the assumption that prognostics were not part of that mainstream religious culture of the period. Another feature which has deterred scholars from sustained engagement with this material is its diversity. It comprises a miscellaneous assortment of texts both in Latin and English, ranging from the occurrence of wind and sun during the twelve nights of Christmas, predictions based on the weather on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, known as the Revelatio Esdrae, to lists of lucky and unlucky days, the prediction of an individual’s character and personality from the day of the week in which he was born, dream prophecies, thunder divination, and much besides. Prognostics are calendrical, rather than astrological, in the sense that they are generally placed within a specific time framework which could be the days of the week, months and years. This remarkable corpus of Old English predictions has remained obscure to modern readers and students until recently. Building on Max Förster’s haphazard but valuable series of articles dispersed between Englische Studien and Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen (1903–25), L. S. Chardonnens published, in 2007, the first comprehensive edition of Anglo-Saxon prognostics in both Latin and English.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSaints and Scholars New Perspectives on Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture in Honour of Hugh Magennis
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture in Honour of Hugh Magennis
EditorsStuart McWilliams
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Ltd
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781846158711
ISBN (Print)9781843843030
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Contributors 2012. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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