What is the significance of Shakespeare's title Twelfth Night, and how did the title come into use?

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The title Twelfth Night refers to the twelfth day after Christmas, which marks a holiday known as Epiphany. Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the Magi, or Three Wise Men, to deliver their gifts to baby Jesus. While one might expect an Epiphany celebration to be much like the rest of Christmas festivities, apparently in Shakespeare's day the celebrations were known to be quite wild. Shakespeare in particular wrote the play in 1602 for a festivity held at one of the Inns of Court, and that particular festivity was known to be "absolutely secular and even quite bawdy," meaning having absolutely nothing...

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msfuryal | Student
The 12th night from Christmas was a festive holiday where everything was reversed. Servants took the role of masters and masters acted as servants . a common way of understanding it would be to think of it as saturnalia. As the main title suggests the idea of a time of misrulegives the underlying constructive principle of the whole play. The festive spirit characterizes the whole play. In the main plot a sister is mistaken for her brother and the brother for the sister. Viola tells Olivia that you do not think you are not what you are and admits the same is true of herself also. The women take initiative in wooing , both in appearance and in fact. The duke makes his young servant “your masters mistress” and the lady who has with drawn from the sight of men embraces a stranger. The subplot also depicts a prolonged season o misrule, uncivil rule , in Olivia’s house hold , with Sir Toby turning night into day. There is singing , dancing, drinking, scenes of mock wooing , a mock sword fight and the gulling of an unpopular member of the household, with Feste playing the part of a priest and attempting s mock exorcism in the manner of the feast of fools.
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