Fest des Bohnenkönigs (Feast of The Bean Kings)
Jakob Jordaens (ca. 1640-45)
The functionary with the above whimsical title played an important part in the festivities of Christmas in the olden time. His duties were to lead and direct the multifarious revels of the season, or, as we should say at the present day, to act as Master of the Ceremonies. The following account of him is given by Stow:
‘In the feast of Christmas, there was in the king’s house, wheresoever he lodged, a Lord of Misrule, or Master of Merry Disports, and the like had ye in the house of every nobleman of honour or good worship, were he spiritual or temporal. The Mayor of London, and either of the Sheriffs, had their several Lords of Misrule, ever contending, without quarrel or offence, who should make the rarest pastime to delight the beholders. These lords beginning their rule at Allhallond Eve, continued the same till the morrow after the Feast of the Purification, commonly called Candlemas Day, in which space there were fine and subtle disguising, masks and mummeries, with playing at cards for counters, nayles and points, in every house, more for pastimes than for game.’
If that description is correct, the Fest des Bohnenkönigs was a celebration that ran for three months every year starting at Halloween, and there’s probably a good reason why the Feast was banned… twice. Click on the link, then zoom, scroll and enjoy the debauchery.
Somewhat related was the British tradition of “The Bean Feast.”
[Top image and description found here.]