Almost every Renaissance family had some role in transmitting values to the children of the next generation in the stories they told, lessons they stressed and activities they performed. A smaller group of people were more actively involved in transmitting popular culture. Professional or popular craftsmen, travelling entertainers and people’s artists comprised a small but important group of traditionbearers. A less clearly defined group were the amateurs or parttime specialists, who often had other occupations but worked for guilds, fraternities, or clubs. These storytellers, musicians, perachers, healers and artists helped popularize and spread stories of the common people. Many of these specialists performed at fairs, feasts and festivals throughout Europe.
The settings or space in which culture is transmitted also provide interesting clues as to the nature of folk culture. Because most of what was passed on to Renaissance society took place at home, much of what defined daily life or routing activity has escaped historians’ investigation. Fortunately, most of the Renaissance festivals were held in public places: the church, the tavern and the marketplace or piazza, depending on location in Europe and activity involved. In spite of the great regional variations in celebrations and the individuals involved in transmitting popular culture, most forms fit into a fairly traditional framework. They form five broad categories including religious holidays (Shrove Tuesday, Easter, Christmas); Saints’ Days when fairs were often held (Martinenas and St. George’s); familial celebrations (birth, confirmation, death, marriage); official holidays (mayoral pageants, triumphs); and folk or seasonal festivals (Midsummer Eve).
All of these feasts have common characteristics which may parallel rites of passage. The holiday provides the opportunity to segregate the “carnivalesque” behavior that may be present because of some conflict within the society form or structure. The wild behavior or violence is actually an attempt to resolve the crisis. Only after the unusual behavior can the reconciliation occur. As in the case of a crisis, this is necesary, for it allows people to reaggregate or reintegrate into their social group.