Skip to main content

A toy that has a rather unfortunate history, and is still quite common, is the Jack-in-the-Box. The first violent Reformers gave this title to the Blessed Sacrament, and even the Protestant government of the day objected to it, and passed a law (12 Nov., 1547) forbidding “such vile and unseemly words." The writer, as a child, had a well-made Jack-in-the-Box to play with, and on its mahogany lid were the words, Hocus Pocus, painted in white capital letters. He could get no explanation as to what these words meant, but he was told to say them as he pressed the spring and then the figure would jump out. As Hocus Pocus is a parody of Hoc est Corpus, the holy words of Consecration used in the Mass, the blasphemous application of this toy to one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith is obvious and it is also an example of the religion of the Reformers.