Mallard Ceremony

Mallard Ceremony

January 14 every 100 years (2001, 2101, 2201, 2301...)
The Mallard Feast or Mallard Day ceremony held once every 100 years at All Souls College in Oxford commemorates the college's founding in 1438. Henry Chichele, archbishop of Canterbury at the time, wanted to establish a college at Oxford in memory of those who had perished in the wars between England and France. While he was considering where such a college might be located, he had a dream that when the foundations were being dug, a fattened mallard was found stuck in the drain or sewer. He decided to heed the omen and, when the digging began at the location specified in his dream, a huge mallard was indeed found—a sure sign that his college would flourish.
Although no one is sure exactly when the first commemoration of this event was held, the ceremony itself has remained unchanged. The Fellows of the college nominate the Lord of the Mallard. He in turn appoints six officers, who march before him carrying white staves and wearing medals with the image of the mallard engraved on them. When the Lord is seated in his chair, the officers carry him around the quadrangle three times and sing a traditional song. After that, they climb up to the college roof in a torchlight procession and sing the song again, loudly enough for most of the town to hear. Eventually they retire to their common rooms to drink wine and continue their merrymaking.
CONTACTS:
Oxford University, All Souls College
Mallard Society
Oxford, OX1 4AL United Kingdom
44-18-6527-9379; fax: 44-18-6527-9299
www.all-souls.ox.ac.uk
SOURCES:
BkDays-1864, vol. I, p. 113
OxYear-1999, p. 35