Culture Magazine

Monday 2nd December

By Kirsty Stonell Walker @boccabaciata
Flipping heck, it is cold this morning!  I was scraping the ice off the windscreen of the Walker-mobile shrieking as my fingers were ice-burned by the flying frost.  It is suddenly very Christmas-y indeed.
On that note, here is today's Sobvent image...

Monday 2nd December

Penance (1889) William John Hennessy

It's one thing to scrape a car windscreen without your mittens on, it's another to go padding about in the snow without your shoes on.  Ouch!  Well, no-one is happy in this little extravaganza, unless that's not a baby in her arms but a giant hot water bottle. One could only hope...
What William John Hennessy has brought us is a very good reason why you should do your sinning in the summer.  According to this rather helpful blog on the matter, for people caught having naughty married cuddles before actually being married, then the church required you to pay a bit of penance in order to atone for the sin.  You wore nothing but a white robe (symbolising the baptism robe) and carried a rod or candle (Catholics love a candle, Protestants give you a stick and you'll like it, thank you very much) and you are placed on the naughty step in church until you learn your lesson.  What got me was that this was used as punishment for couples whose babies were born rather promptly after marriage , if you know what I mean.  Blimey, look far enough back in everyone's family tree and the majority of weddings were followed at speed by the first born, hence the need to get married in the first place.  I'm surprised we didn't get the penance gown handed down in my family along with the christening gown...
Interestingly, our lass is both outside and on her own.  It is traditional to punish both the men and the women for illicit cuddling, but our lass is going solo, which either tells you something about Victorian attitudes to sin (it's all the woman's fault) or that her partner in crime has managed to get away with it (t'uh, typical).  Either way, I am rather alarmed that this poor lass has to trudge through the snow with her candle and baby.  This has overtones that she will be popping her clogs out there, and her baby, and just ending up in a snow drift, blending in with her white frock.
Personally, I hope those steps behind her are the church and she's decided she's had enough and she's off home to warm up and start a religion that doesn't require you to lose toes to frost-bite.
See you tomorrow...

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