Feast of Fools

Mock-religious festivals, often identified, which were celebrated about New Year time, notably in France (e.g., Rouen, Beauvais) but also in England (e.g., Lincoln, Salisbury), sometimes associated with Balaam’s Ass or the Flight into Egypt. The festivities were controlled by subdeacons and included much buffoonery and burlesque of religious services. They flourished during the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, but severe penalties for their observance were imposed by the Council of Basle (1435).