Friday, December 15, 2006

15th Day of Christmas - Christmas Pageants

Today was Tyler's Christmas Pageant at her school. The kids were all so cute! I wish I had some pictures to share but I don't have any yet. I did get some video of it, but they filmed the entire thing and I'll probably get a copy.

The word pageant comes from the Middle English word pagonds. This means wagons. Seems a bit weird, but the story behind it is very interesting.

Medieval dramas were performed at Christmas and Easter primarily on what was called floating stages. These were large two tiered wagons covered with decorations and flowers. The "floating" stages were used because most people could not read in the 15th century and the church services were in Latin. These wagons or pagonds were a way to reach the people where they were in their own language.

The bottom tier of the wagon was curtained and was used as a dressing room and the top was the stage where the plays were performed. These plays would take all day to be performed, sometimes into the middle of the night because a new wagon and set of actors would perform each act. The first wagon would stop in the street and perform the first act and then they would move on to the next street and perform the same act again. Meanwhile, a second wagon would come in behind them and perform the second act in the same place the first wagon had performed. This would keep happening until the final act was performed. They were able to reach a large number of people by performing the play mutiple times on different streest. They brought the Christmas Story to the people who might not have normally heard the story. In this way, our pageants nowadays is not all that much different. Many come to watch their family and friends in these programs that may never hear the Christmas story otherwise.

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