“On the eve of the Kalends, late at night, the youths get up and carry around a shield, and one of them is masked, with a club, hanging from his neck. Hissing and sounding the drum, they go around to the houses and surround the shield: the drum sounds and the one with the mask hisses. This game over, they receive a reward from the master of the house according to what pleases him. Thus they do in each and every house. On that day, they eat all kinds of vegetables. Early in the morning, two of the youths get up; they are given olive branches and salt and they enter the houses. They greet the household, ‘Joy and gladness be in this house!’ They throw handfuls of leaves and salt into the fire and say, ‘So many children, so many piglets, so many lambs!’ They wish for all good things. Before the sun rises, they eat their honeycomb or something else sweet, so that the whole year will go well with them, without disputes or great labor.” – Benedict, Liber 2.172
“Even now in Rome one can see, quite near the Basilica of Saint Peter, at the beginning of the Kalends of January, people executing choral dances in the squares in Pagan fashion, day and night, to the accompaniment of loud shouting and sacrilegious song.” – Boniface, Epistolae 49
“Once, long ago, many superstitions were observed by the country folk and Pagans concerning the Kalends, which the saints had great difficulty uprooting even from Christians. They used to adopt monstrous shapes, some dressing themselves in the skins of farm animals, others putting on the heads of wild animals. Others would dress up in women’s tunics, shamelessly tricking out their soldierly muscles in feminine finery.” – Jacob of Voragine, Legenda 13
“What wickedness takes place during this feast; fortune-tellings, divinations, deceptions and feigned madnesses. On this day, having been seized up by the furies of their bacchant-like ravings and having been inflamed by the fires of diabolical instigation, they flock together to the church and profane the house of god with vain and foolish rhythmic poetry in which sin is not wanting but by all means present, and with evil sayings, laughing and cacophony they disrupt the priest and the whole congregation applauds for the people love these things.” – Richard of St.-Victor, Sermones centum 177.1036
“On the Kalends of January even the faithful assume monstrous appearances and are changed into the character of wild animals; others make feminine gestures and feminize their male faces … They all make a great noise, with leaping and clapping dances and what is still more shameful, both sexes dance together in sung dances, with dulled senses, intoxicated with much wine.” – Isidore of Seville, De eccliasticis officiis 1.41
“The common vagrants and the jugglers of the stage, dividing themselves into squads and hordes, hang about every house. The gates of the public officials they besiege with especial persistence, actually shouting and singing and dancing and some clapping their hands until he that is beleaguered within, exhausted, throws out to them whatever money he has and even what is not his own. And these mendicants going from door to door follow after one another, and until late in the evening, there is no relief from this nuisance. Even soldiers, whom you would think would be more disciplined, have come to learn vulgarity and the vile practices of the actors. They make sport of the laws and the government of which they have been appointed guardians. For they ridicule and insult the august officials. They mount a chariot as though upon a stage; they appoint pretended lictors and publicly act like buffoons. This is the noble part of their processions – I shudder to mention what else they get up to! For instance, the noble and brave champion loosens his tunic to his ankle, twines a girdle about his breast, puts on a woman’s sandals, dons a feminine wig and begins plying a distaff full of wool. He even sinks so low as to change the tone of his voice and utter words in a sharp, womanly treble.” – Asterius of Amasa, Homily 38-43
“The Pagans bring out their gods on this day. With planned defilements and premeditated disgrace they pull them hither and thither dragging them all about. Not content with hauling their portable gods through the streets others dress in masks and costumes, performing the roles of the idols and acting out the shameful, sacrilegious stories of those wicked demons. It should be abundantly clear to any decent Christian that participation in these foul rites and Pagan spectacles brings about defilement, yet some of you have the temerity to say, ‘This isn’t the deliberate pursuit of godlessness, these good luck visits are just for fun; this is a celebration of a new beginning, not just a superstition from the past. This is just New Years, not the threat of Paganism.’ What foolishness and conceit! To know that it is contemptible all you have to do is look at those who have made themselves equal to beasts, put themselves on the level with asses, made themselves up as cattle, those who masquerade as demons.” – Peter Chrysologos, De kalendis Ianuariis 1.261-64
“We deplore the demons marching in procession in the marketplace, the all-night devilish celebrations, the tauntings, the invectives, the nightlong dances, the ridiculous comedies and the drunkenness of the revelers that one sees everywhere on the Kalends.” – John Chrysostom, On the Kalends 48.95-62
“I condemn the din of silly and shameful songs, the disgraceful junketing and dances that characterize this false feast day. Are you, who are supposedly Christians, going to join in the celebrations of good luck presents like a Pagan, going to play at dice and get yourself drunk? To do so is to associate with demons, for demons take pleasure in idle songs, in the trifling spectacle, in the manifold indecencies of the theaters, in the mad frenzies of the chariot races. Everything having to do with the Kalends of January is thoroughly Pagan and not fit for a decent Christian.” – Saint Augustine, Sermon 6.73-76
“How can you who have accepted the holy eucharist then celebrate a banquet of superstition during the Kalends of January? Befuddling the mind with wine, distending the belly with food, twisting the limbs in dances and engaging in depraved acts so that you are forced to forget what are the things that belong to god and instead pay dues to an idol – this is not what Christians do, but rather Pagans!” – Maximus of Turin, Sermon 63.1
“What sensible person who understands the sacraments of the lord’s birth does not condemn the Saturnalia nor reject the lechery of the Kalends? For there are many who still carry on with the superstitious old customs of the foolishness of the Kalends. They celebrate this day as the highest feast. Where they look thus for happiness they find, rather, sorrow. They wallow in wine and sicken themselves on feasting so that he who is chaste and moderate all year gets drunk and pollutes himself; and if he does not do so, he thinks that he has been deprives of the feast.” – Maximus of Turin, Sermon 98.1
“Unhappy me! What wickedness did I let loose! I think they would not have known how to play the Little Stag on the Kalends had I not by my rebuke shown them how.” – Pacianus of Barcelona, Parenesis 1.13
“I rebuke the demented customs of those who for the sake of foolish gaiety observe the Kalends of January or the folly of other superstitions which men think give them license to get drunk and indulge in obscene chanting and games. Worse still is the indecent flaunting of men in women’s clothing and make-up grotesque enough to make the demons themselves blanch. They sing bawdy songs in praise of vice, sung with shameless gusto and accompanied by disjointed gestures and mumming in the likeness of she-goats and stags. The inventor of evil makes his entry through these in order to master souls ensnared by the appearance of play. I call upon the sober and upright members of this congregation to reprimand your neighbors and subordinates, to forbid them to use indecent language or sing those bawdy songs, and especially to deny alms to those who by sacrilegious custom are carried away by insanity rather than playfulness. And unless you want to share in their guilt I tell you: do not allow a little stag or a little yearling or monstrosities of any other sort to appear before your houses, but rather chastise and punish them and, if you can, even tie them up tightly. Admonish your household not to follow the sacrilegious customs of the unhappy Pagans.” – Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 193.1-3
“During the Kalends of January wretched men, and worse yet, even some who are baptized, don false appearances, monstrous disguises, in which I know not whether they are primarily laughingstocks or rather objects of sorrow. What sensible person indeed could believe that he would find sane people who deliberately transform themselves into the state of wild beasts while playing the stag. Some are clothed in the hide of beasts, others don animal headdresses, rejoicing and exulting if thus they have changed themselves into the likeness of beasts so as not to appear to be men. Now truly, what is this! How vile! That those who are born men dress in women’s clothing and, by the vilest of perversion, sap their manly strength to resemble girls, not blushing to clothe their soldier’s muscles in women’s gowns: they flaunt their bearded faces, and they aim to look just like women. There are those who observe omens during the Kalends of January by refusing to give fire from their house or any other goods to anyone, no matter who asks; yet they accept diabolical gifts from others and give them to others themselves. That night, moreover, some rustics arrange little tables with the many things necessary for eating; they intend that the tables remain arranged like this throughout the night, for they believe that the Kalends of January can do this for them, that throughout the entire year they will continue to hold their feasts amid plenty. I command your household to get rid of these and other practices like them, which would take too long to describe, which are thought by ignorant people to be trifling sins, or none at all; and command your household to observe the Kalends as they do the Kalends of other months. And therefore the saintly fathers of ancient days, considering how most of mankind spent those days in gluttony and lechery, going mad with drunkenness and sacrilegious dancing, ordained throughout the whole world that all the churches should proclaim a public fast, so that wretched men might know that the evil that they brought upon themselves was so great that all the churches are obliged to fast for their sins. In fact, let no one doubt that anyone who shows any kindness to foolish men who lewdly indulging in amusements during those Kalends is himself a sharer of their sins.” – Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 192.24
“Did you observe the Kalends of January in the Pagan fashion by sitting on the roof of your house after having drawn a circle around you with a sword so that you might see from there and understand what will happen to you in the coming year? Or did you sit at the crossroads on the hide of a bull so that you would discover your future? ” – Burchard of Worms, Decretum 19.5.62
“The mistress of the estate must not perform rites, or cause others to perform them for her, unless at her master’s orders: it must be understood that the master performs rites for all the household. She must be clean, and keep the farmhouse sweet and clean. She must have the hearth ready swept all round each day before she goes to bed. On the Kalends, the Ides, the Nones, and on a feast day, she must place a wreath at the hearth, and on those days she must make offering to the Lar of the Household according to her means.” – Cato, De Agricultura 143
1. It is not permitted to dress up as a calf or a stag on the Kalends of January or to present diabolical gifts; on that day all favors shall be granted as on other days.
3. It is forbidden to make offerings or keep vigils on saints’ festivals in private houses, or to discharge vows among woods or at sacred trees or at springs, but, whoever has a vow, let him keep vigil in the church and fulfill his vow by giving to the servants of the church or the poor. Nor let anyone dare to make feet or images of men out of wood.
4. It is forbidden to turn to soothsayers or to augurs, or to those who pretend to know the future, or to look at what they call ‘the lots of the Saints’ or those they make out of wood or bread. But whatever a man wishes to do, let him do it in the name of god.
5. Forbid especially, in every way, these observances on the vigils which are kept in honor of Saint Martin.
8. It is forbidden to offer mellita, mulsa or any other mixture of wine and honey at the altar of the divine sacrifice. Any potion other than wine mixed with water is forbidden. Great sin and crime belong to the presbyter who dares offer any drink other than wine in the consecration of the blood of Christ.
– The Diocesan Council of Auxerre
“The so-called Kalends, and what are called Bota and Brumalia, and the full assembly which takes place on the first of March, we wish to be abolished from the life of the faithful. And also the public dances of women, which may do so much harm and mischief. Moreover we drive away from the life of Christians the dances given in the names of those falsely called gods by the Greeks whether of men or women, and which are preformed after an ancient and un-Christian fashion; decreeing that no man from this time forth shall be dressed as a woman, nor any woman in the garb suitable to men. Nor shall he assume comic, satyric, or tragic masks; nor may men invoke the name of the execrable Bacchus when they squeeze out the wine in the presses; nor when pouring out wine into jars [to cause a laugh], practicing in ignorance and vanity the things which proceed from the deceit of insanity. Therefore those who in the future attempt any of these things which are written, having obtained knowledge of them, if they be clerics we order them to be deposed, and if laymen to be cut off.” – The Council of Trullo, Canon 62