So you've already painted lead across your cheekbones to imitate the pallor of a week-old corpse, mucked out the privies, and spent an hour in the stocks just chilling. Did you think those were the only ways Shakespeare and his pals got down on a Friday night? First of all, the concept of "weekends" didn't exist yet. Secondly, there's plenty more you can do to honor the Bard on his birthday! Here's everything you need to know to celebrate Shakespeare's big 448, Elizabethan style:
1. First things first, GET A JOB. The roving jobless in 16th-century England were subject to punishment on a two-strike policy: one strike, you're tied to a cart and beaten. Two strikes, you lose an ear. And nothing puts a damper on a party like bleeding from the head.
2. Harvest plenty of woolly mullein. Party = root beer = high bathroom traffic, if you know what we mean. Unless you're some kind of Rockefeller and can afford to wipe with rags, like the 16th-century richies did, you'll want a nice supply of woolly mullein "toilet paper " laid by.
3. Party suppliez!! Forget puppy chow and orange soda. If you're broke (dude, JOB), serve up some watery grain and preserved vegetables! If, on the other hand, you're feeling flush, lay out a feast fit for Queen Elizabeth. We're thinking a giant meat pie, large enough to fit "a whole roe-deer, a gosling, three capons, six chickens, ten pigeons, and one young rabbit." And that is literally just the first course. If possible, personalize the feast to honor your guests. Use gilt to draw your friend Steve's face on a venison haunch, or make a meringue shaped like a power drill to celebrate the esteemed house of your friend Julie, whose parents owns a hardware store.
4. Game time. Nothing like a rousing game of Nine Men's Morris to work off all that gosling and grain porridge! Though the most festive 16th-century entertainment would, of course, be a public hanging, the justice system just doesn't work the way it used to. So why not stuff a small leather bag with hair and get a game of tennis going? Or you can play what we like to call Vigilante MegadeathBall--aka, the Tudors' particularly violent taken on football, which involved zero rules, a mile-long playing field, and a five-broken-bone minimum.
5. Dress code. Denim and synthetics are OUT, badger fur and crushed-beetle lipstick are IN. To disguise the smell of used woolly mullein, which we have no doubt will completely compromise your plumbing, ask each guest to tie a sack of sweet-smelling herbs around their waist. And if any of your lower-class guests dare to wear velvet or silk, make a citizen's arrest on the basis of the era's sumptuary laws. To the stocks with those high-falutin' miscreants!
6. Freaky Friday! The Tudors liked to observe Saturnalia by allowing servants to switch roles with their masters. So why not try switching places with your parents? Then you'll get to do all the fun stuff they never let you do, like filling out the paperwork for your braces and signing your little brother up for field hockey. Serve your guests antacids then call it an early night, because everybody's got work tomorrow. Happy birthday, Will!