In addition to the traditional celebratory December days of Xmas and the anticipation of the New Year, our family has seven December birthdays--covering four generations! Chaucer thoughts, which are always with me, bring memories of our receptions that followed the Chaucer Masses each October. The first was in 2000, the big anniversary year. That was a "pull out all the stops" affair as it should have been. After that, we continued to have Masses said for Chaucer and a social afterward with refreshments, but they were no grand affairs as the first one had been.
In 2001, those who attended the church service were invited, afterward, to cross the street to the pastor's house for mead and pasties. Mead is a honey-based "wine" popular in the Middle Ages; the pasties are mushroom-and-cheese-filled turnovers made from a medieval recipe. Those offerings never changed. The following year, the social moved to a couple of adjoining rooms in a parish building.
As time went on, and the event gained notice, it moved to the parish hall. Although, at first, it was more room than we needed, eventually the hall became just large enough to hold the crowd and display a greater quantity of refreshments. It took several tables to set out all the food and drink. It was truly splendid.
Help came from several sources. Eighth graders from the parish school, directed by their teacher, efficiently set up the food and glassware. And a friend from the writers group I attend poured the mead. Besides dispensing libations, he exercised his keen wit and lively imagination. If asked what exactly was mead, he had a store of imaginative and entertaining responses! A group of Chaucer devotees also provided an entertainment, but theirs was delivered in Middle English.
After more than ten years, as age crept up on me, and my energy level declined, the social festivities came to an end. But the musicians for the Mass insisted on continuing to provide medieval music during the church service.
That part of celebrating Chaucer still continues today. Those who had never come when the reception followed enjoy a special Mass. They're not aware of all that used to be, but I remember.