Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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lxxvi
also to be similar. The various customs on this day are to commemorate the manifestation of our Saviour to the Gentiles, and have numerous refer­ences to the Magi, Wise Men of the East, or Three Kings as they are commonly called. According to Picart,* the feast was established in the church in the 4th century. It was an early usage to elect a King, though he does not appear among the revels of the old English court or nobility, not being men­tioned in the accounts we have of them, or dis­tinguished from the Lord of Misrule. It was not necessary that he should be chosen by lot (although most customary), for Brand sajrs that in France, up to the end of last century, when the revolution destroyed for a time every thing of the sort, and when " La fete de Rois" was by order of the coun­cil transformed into " La fete de Sans-culottes," it was the custom at the court to choose one of the courtiers for King, who was waited on by the other nobles. In Germany also the students and citizens in the various cities and universities used to choose one of their companions for King.
The custom however to decide on a King by lot, usually a bean, whence he was called King of the Bean, is of considerable antiquity. In " Les Crieries de Paris," composed by Guillaume de Villeneuve in the end of the 13th century,f is this line : " Gastel a feve orroiz crier," which a note describes as " gateaux pour le jour de la fete des Rois," evi­dently alluding to the bean which marked the fortu­nate possessor as king. The method was to inclose a bean in the cake, as is still the case in French twelfth-cakes, and divide it into portions, when, as before mentioned, the bean denoted the royal per­sonage. The King or Queen thus elected chose his
* Religious Ceremonies, London 1731, fol. vol. ii. p. 6. f Fabliaux et Contes, par Barbazan et Meon, vol. ii. 285.

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