This Day in History

Yes, it's that time of year again. When half the population dresses up in orange frock coats and off-brand Bishop's Miters and walks through the center of town at midnight carrying as much fruit as they can. While, perched on the lower branches of the honest and sturdy native hardwoods, the children of the nearby orphanage sing lilting cantos, learned phonetically, to the tune of Camptown Races.

What is the other half of the population doing? They're standing along the parade route shouting obscenities and tossing small plastic bags of "night-soil" at the grandly-dressed celebrants.

Oddly, our community is the last to celebrate the Festival of Saint Nestor the Unhinged (not to be confused with the St. Nestors of Thessaloniki or Magydos who were renowned for more wholesome lives).

Our days of celebration may soon be coming to an end. It seems every year the town elders have a harder time approving the use of community hospital funds and National Guard equipment to stage the fete that commemorates the expulsion of Nestor the Fidgeting Eccentric, as he was known then, from the village of Little Piddling in 1274 AD by the enraged citizens. It was not until later church wardens inspected Nestor's cave that they discovered what they interpreted to be proof of his "blessedness" and divine guidance, a life-sized recreation of the Last Judgment constructed entirely of hitherto missing and eerily preserved bodies of local farm animals. Such was the artistry of the display, it was said, that the elders dropped to their knees and were physically sick with joy and exultation.

The grotto became a site of pilgrimage for those who were without hope and also those sentenced to pilgrimage by the ecclesiastical courts.

Unfortunately, Nestor was killed in the celebration that followed the discovery, but was canonized as recompense to his soul by the Archbishop of Hutwold Valley.

Such a story is certainly worth celebrating periodically to remind man of his place in the universe and that the wages of sin and degradation are harsh but not without some factor of redemption. Once widespread, the festival of St. Nestor is now, sadly celebrated only here, in Little Piddling on Hutwold. But maybe that's as it should be.

Originally Published on Rising-Gorge on 6/3/2016


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