The Breviary readings on December 4 recounted that S Peter Chrysologos preached a very fierce sermon against chaps in masks (personati) who took part in ludi with variis saltationibus on the Kalends of January.
His view was that people who wanted to fool around (iocari) with the Devil were not fit to rejoice with Christ. It reminded me rather of S Damasus' campaign aainst the Lupercalia.
Can anybody supply background to this?
UPDATE: following hints from kind correspondents, whom I thank, I was waiting outside Bodley yesterday morning as the portcullis went up after the midwinter absit doctrina break.
For any who have any interest, I commend the Ninth Oration of the late pagan Greek rhetorician Libanius, a supporter of Julian the Apostate (332-363). Naturally, he defends the existence of this old pagan celebration ... though how old it can really be in the Greek world (it is commonly remarked that postponing something until the Greek Calends is a bit like PF setting up a Committee, since Greek Calends do not exist)? [I read it in the Teubner Edition, Vol 1 Fasc 2 pp 393-398. I don't know whither the Greekless could turn to find a crib. The Loeb volumes of Libanius do not include this Oration.]
More entertaining is a sermon by S Asterius, bishop of Amaseia, circa 350 to circa 410. [Migne Patrologia Graeca XL 216-226. Migne is on the Internet and includes a Latin crib of every text printed. Although in many cases, including this one, the 'translation' is more of a paraphrase.] S Asterius describes the Kalends of January as the relentless Argyrolatria of the 'Christmas Shopping period' in post-Christian Western 'civilisation'; as the often extortionate and menacing 'trick or treat' period around 'Hallow e'en'; and as a more-than-usually unwholesome 'Gay Pride' celebration: all arranged neatly together in harmonious disorder on the same day.
Perhaps that's why Chrysologus had his doubts about it.