THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ASS, FEAST OF THE, formerly a festival in northern France, primarily in commemoration of the biblical flight into Egypt, and usually held on the 14th of January. A girl with a baby at her breast and seated on an ass splendidly caparisoned was led through the town to the church, and there placed at the gospel side of the altar while mass was said. The ceremony degenerated into a burlesque in which the ass of the flight became confused with Balaam’s ass. So scandalous became the popular revels associated with it, that the celebration was prohibited by the church in the 15th century. (See Fools, Feast of.)
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