The Marriage of King Wilt and Lady Lee in the Great Hall
King Wilt married his bride, Lady Lee, on Christmas Eve 1444.
At the marriage feast, the wedding party made merry with music, dancing and especially toasts to the married couple. The crowd included both noblemen and servants. All feasted on boar’s head, goose and mince pie. While music played the tables were decked with sweet breads and wine, honey cakes, apples and gingerbread. One wedding guest after another raised his cup to praise the master of the house and his new bride. Finally a man of diminutive size and wizened face stepped forward to offer his toast:
Tonight, dear friends the fires burn brightly
Dancers dance and ghosts move spritely
While ice sheets form on evergreens nightly
Let us, wee folk, at this Christmas tide,
Lift our jugs and our mugs to Lady Lee
Mistress of the Roundelee!
With that the entire hall fell silent for every man, woman, child and beast in the hall had fallen into a deep slumber. Out of every corner the wee folk now emerged and danced their lovely roundelay. The sweetest harp music filled the hall and lovely singing could be heard out into the night, ringing merrily down through the valley. The cheerful celebration continued into the wee morning hours, by which time all the food and wine had been devoured. The candles burned until the last one burnt out.
On the morning of Christmas Day the guests awoke one by one. They rubbed their sleepy eyes and looked around. Each thought the wedding party had been a good one, for all the food had been eaten, all the wine and been drunk and there were vague memories of music and dancing. The lady of the house awoke wearing a wreath of fragrant mistletoe on her head and a necklace of silvery pearls round her neck. When the guests departed they threw open the doors of the hall and entered the bright, snow-filled courtyard. It is said that under the soft white flakes of the first snow, the wedding guests found new apples hanging from the apple tree.
The house and lineage were blessed from that time forward. Every year thereafter Lady Lee held a Christmas Eve feast for her household. The custom still continued after her death. On Christmas Eve the servants would deck the halls with mistletoe. It was said that the mistress of the house would always appear on that eve and dance her roundelay while the guests dined on sweetmeats and wine. Happiness and good fortune could be found on that night if a couple met under the boughs of fresh mistletoe and confessed their love for each other. Likewise a false heart could also be detected when a maid stood with her swain under the fresh herb. If he were not true it could happen that an unseen force would fling him through the doors and into the courtyard or the apple tree would stand dead and barren instead of blossoming and bearing fruit.
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