Never mind those advent chocolates, or that mulled wine and German sausage at the Christmas market! We good Anglo-Saxons are expected to fast before Christmas - forty days, I'll have you know!
Two weeks to go until Geol! That’s ‘Yule’ or Christmas to you, my blessed readers. (Old English Geol, by the way, is pronounced quite similarly to ‘Yule’, that is, with a soft ‘g’).
Alas! I’m failing miserably in my preparations. You see, I’m supposed to be fasting the forty days before Christmas, so that I can concentrate on reading prayers for everyone.
Well, I’m doing pretty well with the latter, well at least when I can keep my mind off food! But having to stave off the hunger until nones (the ninth hour, or 3 p.m. in your world) is, I fear, just too much for me.
And I’d promised so faithfully – vowed, in fact – that I would lose a few pundas (that’s ‘pounds’ to you, no funny kilo stuff in my world) before the inevitable onslaught of festivities and feasting.
You understand my logic: I’m getting a bit porky around my middle so I need to anticipate my Christmas gluttony; lose the weight beforehand, in order that I won’t feel the need to confess in the New Year once I’ve piled on the fat. I’m nothing if not imaginative.
Now, I’ve been wondering all day if I should try to get back on track somehow. Then I realised I needed a greater motivation for fasting, a stronger reason, something more than the fact that fasting gives me more time to pray for you all.
So I’ve just been poring over my penitential (penance book) to see what sins would attract two weeks of fasting. I’m not saying I’m going to commit the sins, I just want to imagine that I’ve committed them. That way, then, I will feel more obligated than at present to complete the remainder of my fasting period. You understand, I know you do.
So over the next few days I will let all my blessed readers know what I come up with: that is, what sin(s) = 14 days fasting. I’m feeling better motivated already. Here’s my first sin; well, looks like I’m going to have to imagine doing it twice:
‘If he vomits because of drunkenness or gluttony or illness, he is to fast 7 days or is to sing two psalters’. (Scriftboc: translation by Allen J. Frantzen)
Seems straight forward enough. The only caveat is that I mustn’t ‘throw up the host’ (that’s the holy bread at Mass), otherwise I get 40 days. Well, I could never imagine doing that!