Information culled from Wikipedia:
It’s defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as “the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking”. Merrymaking: another word for having a ball!There is some confusion these days, however, as to which night is Twelfth Night: modern practice is often to regard the night of Epiphany itself (sixth of January) to be Twelfth Night. The older tradition of Twelfth Night being the 5 January stems from the medieval practice of the day beginning at sunset, rather than at midnight as it does now. Thus Twelfth Night falls on 5 January, ahead of Twelfth Day on the 6th. Hmm. A bit complicated but so what.
A recent belief in some English-speaking countries holds that it’s unlucky to leave Christmas decorations hanging after Twelfth Night. Unlucky? I don’t think so but it sure leaves the house a lot neater.
Twelfth Night; or, What You Will is a comedy by William Shakespeare, is a reference to the twelfth night after Christmas Day, called the Eve of the Feast of Epiphany. It was originally a Catholic holiday but, prior to Shakespeare’s play, had become a day of revelry. Servants often dressed up as their masters, men as women and so forth. This history of festive ritual and Carnivalesque reversal is the cultural origin of the play’s gender confusion-driven plot. Appeal grows stronger word by word.
Due to its themes such as young women seeking independence in a “man’s world”, “gender-bending” and “same-sex attraction” (in a roundabout way), there have been a number of re-workings for the stage, particularly in musical theatre, among them Your Own Thing (1968), Music Is (1976), All Shook Up (2005), and Play On! (1997) Are you with me?
One of my favorite movies is Shakespeare in Love containing several references to Twelfth Night. Near the end of the movie, Elizabeth I (Judi Dench) asks Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) to write a comedy for the Twelfth Night holiday. Shakespeare’s love interest in the film, “Viola” (Gwyneth Paltrow), is the daughter of a wealthy merchant who disguises herself as a boy to become an actor; while Shakespeare, a financially struggling playwright suffering from writer’s block is trying to write Romeo and Juliet. She’s presented in the final scene of the film as William Shakespeare’s “true” inspiration for the heroine of Twelfth Night. In a nod to the shipwrecked opening of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the movie includes a scene where the character Viola, separated from her love by an arranged marriage and bound for the American colonies, survives a shipwreck and comes ashore to Virginia.
Ah! This actor’s dream. In my book Now What? I used imagery of a storm swept Lake Michigan with waves smashing against boulders visible in the heroine’s floor to ceiling windows as she summons the spirit of her departed husband for advice and love one last time.
It was 2:30 a.m. when the phone rang. I fumbled for it, my heart starting a race toward bad news. Our doctor’s voice urged me to hurry. I crammed into clothes as if I expected this call.
It is only a fever that won’t go down, isn’t it?
Our doctor shook his head. “Carly, I’m so sorry.”
Settling in beside my Bob, I held his cooling hand and asked the two words spoken many times during our years together. “Now what?” This time there was no response. I was on my own for the first time. When my fingers touched his wedding ring, I slipped it off and held it in my fist. The gold band was warm. I clung to him. “Come back to me, dearest.”
Sometimes what you wish for is more than you can live with.