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Medieval Holidays Illustration

Middle Ages for Kids
Holidays

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Although most people worked very hard during the Middle Ages, they did not work all the time. There were many holidays on the medieval calendar that gave commoners a day off from work, although they did have to take care of the animals on those days.

Most holidays were established and run by the Catholic church and followed church holy days. Beginning with Christmas, the common people celebrated 12 days of leisure, which over time became known as the 12 days of Christmas. That was the longest holiday of the year. They had another week off at Easter, and another week 7 weeks after Easter called Whitsuntide.

Sundays were always free days. People had to attend church. Church was a long process. But part of the day was free to enjoy in other ways.

There were breaks for fairs, weddings, funerals, and public events.

Everyone looked forward to the festivals. There was at least one festival every month, conducted by the church, to celebrate a holy day. At the festivals, there were sporting events, plays, food, wandering minstrels and singers. At some festivals, there was a joust, which was a most popular sporting event in the Middle Ages.

This is not to say the common people had it easy, but they did have days off. They days they did have off were demanded for them by the church. If the noble who owned the manor on which they lived told them they had to work on a church holiday, the church would step in. This made the commoners very happy with the church.

These activities were not free. The noble had to pay the church to conduct various activities such as the monthly festivals and the miracle plays. Anyone who wanted to get married or buried, not just nobles but commoners as well, had to pay the church. This was all part of the power of the church through the sacraments. So although people were very grateful for their holidays and special days off from work, those same holidays and occasions provided the church with both power and money.

Medieval Festivals

Medieval Feasts

Music and Dancing

Jousts

Sacraments

Power of the Church

Interactive Quiz about the Middle Ages (with answers)