Rituals and Festivals DBQ

Directions: The following question is based on the accomplaying ocuments 1-10. (Some of the documents have been edited for the purpose of this exercise.) Write your answer onthe lined pages of the pink essay booklet.
This question is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. As you analyze the documents,take into account both the sources of the documents and the authors' point of view. Write an essay on the following topic that integrates your analysis of the documents. Do not simply summarize the documents individually. You may refer to relevant facts and developments not mentioned in the documents.
Using specific examples from the documents below, analyze the purposes that rituals and festivals served in traditional European life.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: For centuries, traditional European life included a cycle of ritualized events and festivals. Carnival, which began as early as January and climaxed with the celebration of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday), was the most elaborate festival. Carnival was celebrated until Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and penance before Easter. Another major festival occurred on midsummer night’s eve. Some community rituals, like charivari (also known as “riding the stang”) could occur at any time during the year.



Source: Brother Giovanni di Carlo, Dominican monk, Florence, 1468.

Thus, as the appointed time arrived, all the sons convened in the square of the city. They represented all the leaders of the city. The sons’ portrayal of adult citizens was so good that it hardly would seem believable. For they had so carved their faces and countenances in masks that they might scarcely be distinguishable from their fathers, the leaders of the city. Their very sons had put on their clothes and the sons had learned all of their gestures, copying each and every one of their actions and habits in an admirable way. It was truly lovely for citizens who had convened at the public buildings to look on their very selves imitated with as much beauty and processional pomp as the regal magnificence of the most ample senate of the city, which their sons would proudly act out before them.


Document 2

Source: Baltasar Rusow, Lutheran pastor, commenting on a saint’s feast day festival in mid-June. Estonia, sixteenth century.

The festival was marked by flames of joy over the whole country. Around these bonfires people danced, sang and leapt with great pleasure, and did not spare the bagpipes. Many loads of beer were brought. What disorder, whoring, fighting, killing and dreadful idolatry took place there!



Source: Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Battle Between Carnival and Lent (full and detail), 1559.



Source: John Taylor, English writer, early seventeenth century.

Youths armed with cudgels, stones, hammers, trowels, and hand saws put theaters to the sack, and bawdy houses to the spoil, in the quarrel breaking a thousand windows, tumbling from the tops of lofty chimneys, terribly untiling houses and ripping up the bowels of featherbeds; this leads to the enriching of upholsterers, the profit of plasterers and dirt daubers, and the gain of glaziers, joiners, carpenters, tillers, and bricklayers. And what is worse, to the contempt of justice. Thus by the unmannerly manners of Shrove Tuesday constables are baffled.



Source: R. Lassels, French traveler, commenting on Italian Carnival customs, 1670.

All this festival activity is allowed the Italians that they may give a little vent to their spirits which have been stifled for a whole year and are ready to choke with gravity and melancholy.



Source: Henry Bourne, commenting on the customs of celebrating midsummer night in the Scilly Islands, Great Britain, 1725.

The servant and his master are alike and everything is done with an equal freedom. They sit at the same table, converse freely together, and spend the remaining part of the night in dancing, singing etc., without any difference or distinction. The maidens are dressed up as young men and the young men as maidens; thus disguised they visit their neighbors in companies, where they dance and make jokes upon what has happened on the island. Everyone is humorously told their own faults without offense being taken.



Source: Report from the police inspector, Toulouse, France, April 1833.

When a royalist widower of the Couteliers neighborhood remarried, he began receiving raucous visits night after night. Most of the people who took too active a part were sent to the police court. But that sort of prosecution was not very intimidating, and did not produce the desired effect. The disorders continued. One noticed, in fact, that the people who got involved in the disturbances no longer came, as one might expect, from the inferior classes. Law students, students at the veterinary school and youngsters from good city families had joined in. Seditious shouts had arisen in certain groups, and we learned that the new troublemakers meant to keep the charivari going until King Louis Philippe’s birthday, in hopes of producing another sort of disorder.

It was especially on the evening of Sunday the 28th of April 1833 that the political nature of these gatherings appeared unequivocally. All of a sudden shouts of LONG LIVE THE REPUBLIC were heard. It was all the clearer what was going on because the majority of the agitators were people whose ordinary clothing itself announced that they weren’t there for a simple charivari.



Source: Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell, English author, writing to her friend, Mary Hewitt, about the customs of Cheshire, 1838.

When any woman, a wife more particularly, has been scolding, beating or otherwise abusing the other sex, and is publicly known, she is made to “ride stang.” A crowd of people assemble toward evening after work hours, with an old shabby, broken down horse. They hunt out the delinquent and mount her on their horse astride with her face to the tail. So they parade her through the nearest village or town, drowning her scolding and clamour with the noise of frying pans, just as you would scare a swarm of bees. And though I have seen this done many times, I never knew the woman to seek any redress, or the avengers to proceed to any more disorderly conduct after they had once made the guilty one “ride stang.”



Source: Variant of a stang song, from Lincolnshire, England, 1850.


                       Ran, tan, tan!

                        The sign of the kettle, and the old tin pan.

                        Old Abram Higback has been beating his good woman;

                        But he neither told her for what or for why,

                        But he up with his fist, and blacked her eye.

                        Now all ye old women, and old women kind,

                        Get together, and be of a mind;

                        Collar him and take him to the out-house,

                        And shove him in.

                        Now if that does not mend his manners,

                        Then take his skin to the tanners.



Source: Russian official, report on an incident in a village in Novgorod Province, Russia, late nineteenth century.

Drosida Anisimova was apprehended for berry-picking in the village’s communal berry patch before the customary time. A village policeman brought her before the village assembly, where they hung on her neck the basket of berries she had gathered, and the entire commune led her through the village streets with shouts, laughter, songs and dancing to the noise of washtubs, frying pans, and bells. The punishment had such a strong effect on her that she was ill for several days, but the thought of complaining against the offenders never entered her mind.