October Days of the Month

1st – St Mylors Day

Patron saint of Amesbury Abbey, Wiltshire.

It is claimed that the Norman abbey-church was founded by Guinevere, and her body is allegedly buried under the building.

October is the main month for apple-picking and cider-making.

The old sorts of apple are the most valuable for cider, such as the Hagloe Crab, Golden-Pippin, Woodcock, Moyle, Gennet Moyle, Fox-Whelp, Dymock-Red, Yellow Musks, and the Ten Commandments.


The first Thursday in October is the start of the Nottingham Goose Fair. At its height some 20,000 birds were driven to the town. Today it is a large three day funfair.

The fair featured a Pie Powder Court, dispensing justice for on-the-spot offenders. The name comes from the French pied-poudre – dust-feet – referring to the state of the many travellers who arrived.

4th – St Francis’ Day 1182-1226

This is the feast day of St Francis of Assissi, founder of the Franciscan Order of Mendicant Friars (also known as the Grey Friars).

This is also the day when swallows prepare to migrate.

5th – St Faith’s Eve

The Faith Cake is the symbol of St Faith. Her feast day is celebrated on the 6th October, and a Faith Cake baked on St Faith’s Eve is believed to bring a vision of a future husband.

The first Monday in October is the date of the Wibsey Horse Fair, Yorkshire.

“I’m Collier Jack, through Wibsey Slack, I’m allus praad to tell
That few fairs in old England can Wibsey Slack excel;
There’s plenty raam for cattle, and other sports we share,
I’m allus praad t’go wi my mate to t’seets at Wibsey Fair.”

6th – St Faith’s Day

She was an early Christian, martyred with her sisters, Hope and Charity. Because she was said to have been grilled over a fire, she is the patron saint of cakes.

‘Oh good St Faith, be kind tonight,
And bring to me my heart’s delight;
Let me my future husband view
And be my visions chaste and true.’

7th – St Osyth’s Day 7c

Osyth was an East Saxon Queen who gave her name to the Essex village where her nunnery stands. Her emblems are two keys and three loaves. Four churches are dedicated to her.

Tonight, by invoking St Osyth, hearth and home can be kept free of calamity in the year ahead. Last thing before bed, rake the ashes in the grate and mark them with a cross. After saying a prayer to the saint to protect the house from fire, water and all other calamities, you can drift into a peaceful and protected sleep.

8th – St Keynes’ Day

Son of 6th century King Brychan of Wales. Keynsham, in Avon, is named after her.

At St Keynes’ Well, at St Keyne in Cornwall, according to legend, whichever of a newly married couple drinks the water first will rule the roost.

‘I hastened as soon as the wedding was o’er
And left my good wife in the porch,
But i’faith she had been wiser than I
For she took a bottle to church.’
Robert Southey

9th – St Denis’ Day (or Denys, Dionysius)

Patron saint of France.

A day to loose pigs to fatten on fallen beech-mast and acorns.

The second Wednesday in the month is Tavistock Goosey Fair, in Devon.

The pubs of Tavistock habitually removed their doors for the fair, enabling barmen to eject the many drunks with greater ease and less damage.

‘And it’s oh, and where you be a-gwain, and
What be a-doin’ of there?
Aive down your prong and stap along to
Tavistock Goosey Fair.’

‘Tis just a month come Friday next, Bill Champerdown and me,
Us traipsed across old Darty Moor, the Goosey Fair to see.
Us made ourselves quite fitting, us greased and oiled our hair,
Then off we goes in our Sunday clothes, behind old Bill’s grey mare.’

10th – Old Michaelmas Day

Michaelmas Spring, a spell of fine weather, was thought to come around October 10th, on Old Michaelmas Day.

Devil’s Blackberry Day is on October 10th. It is no longer safe to pick blackberries as by now the Devil will have spat on them.

This day is also St Paulinus’ Day, d 644. First Bishop of York. Five English churches are dedicated to him.

11th – St Canice’s Day

St Canice lived in the 6th century and spent much of his time on the remote islands of Scotland.

It was on this day in 1216 that King John lost his Crown and jewels whilst crossing the Wash.

Sherborne’s Michaelmas Fair is held on the Monday after October 10th. An 1826 list of its delights includes ‘the learned pig, the giantess and dwarf, the menagerie of wild beasts . . . Mr Merry Andrew cracking his jokes . . . Rebecca Swain with her black and red cock . . . pricking in the Garter . . . raffling for gingerbread . . . the Sheffield hardwareman sporting a worn out wig and a large pair of spectacles. Sounds like yet another festival we ought to bring back.

12th – St Wilfred’s Day (634 – 709)

He was a Bishop of York and is a popular saint with 48 dedications. St Wilfred’s Chair – the bishop’s throne – at Hexham was once the sanctuary seat.

A west wind today points to a mild winter.

13th – St Edward the Confessor’s Day (1003 – 1066)

Edward was King of England, and after his death he became patron saint of England until supplanted by St George in the 15th century. Edward’s greatest work was the building of Westminster Abbey.

14th – The Battle of Hastings was fought on this day in 1066.

‘The future Conqueror of England was the last to land, and as he placed his foot on shore, he made a false step, and fell on his face. A murmur of consternation ran through the troops at this incident as a bad omen, but with great presence of mind William sprang immediately up, and shewing his troops his hand filled with English sand, exclaimed: “What now? What astonishes you? I have taken seisin of this land with my hands, and by the splendour of God, as far as it extends it is mine – it is yours!’


If there is no rain today, it will be a dry spring next year.

17th – St Luke’s Eve

Sleep with a crooked sixpence and a sprig of Rosemary under your pillow tonight and you will dream of your future love.

St Audrey’s Day

Died 679.

Daughter of a Christian prince, she founded the monastery at Ely and became its first abbess. Twelve churches are dedicated to her.

A fair was always held at St Audrey’s Chapel in Ely on this day. Various merchandise was offered for sale. Silk ribbons, and lace that became known as St Audrey’s laces, shortened to ‘tawdry laces’.

It was cheap imitations of these ornaments that gave rise to the use of the word ‘tawdry’ to describe anything that is showy but without quality, taste or worth.

18th – St Luke’s Day. 1st century.

He is an important saint in the church’s calendar. Patron saint of doctors and artists.

Today traditionally heralds a spell of warm weather, St Luke’s Little Summer. Beloved Luke: the physician was the disciple, helper and friend of St Paul (formerly Saul, a very dubious person and possibly a member of the Sanhedrin, who probably deceived poor St Luke – and everyone else).

Up to St Luke’s Day put your hands where you like, after it keep them in your pocket.

Today was a lucky day to choose a husband.

‘St Luke, St Luke, be kind to me,
In dreams let me my true love see.’
Repeat this three times before going to bed.

During the night your future husband will appear. If he will prove a loving partner he will smile at you, but if after marriage he will forsake thy bed to wander after strange women, then he will be rude and uncivil with thee.

19th – St Frideswide (d 735)

A princess who became a nun and founded a nunnery on the site of Christ Church, Oxford. She is patron of the city and university. Her holy well at Osney is visited by many people each year. Henry VIII visited the well with Catherine of Aragon.


As the days grow darker and Hallowe’en approaches, beware of witches.

21st – St Ursula’s Day

Patron saint of girls’ schools, Princess Ursula was a devout 4th century Christian. A stained glass window at Trinity Church in York depicts her image.

This day is also St John of Bridlington’s Day – a miracle worker who died in 1329.

Trafalgar Day

Celebrating the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when the British fleet under Admiral Nelson defeated the French and Spanish fleets in the decisive battle of the Napoleonic Wars.

‘England expects that every man will do his duty.’
Signal sent from Admiral Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory before the Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October 1805.


The Battle of Edgehill in Warwickshire was fought today in 1642, the first major conflict of the Civil War.


Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII died on this day in 1537, twelve days after giving birth to Edward VI.

25th – St Crispin and Crispinian’s Day

St Crispin is the patron saint of shoemakers. He and his brother, Crispinian, were French. They are the patron saints of cobblers because they were both pricked to death by cobblers’ awls.

‘The twenty fifth of October
Cursed be the cobbler who goes to bed sober.’

‘Now shoe makers will have a Frisken
All in honour of St Crispin.’

St Crispin’s Day itself gained popularity as a holiday after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, where his name was evoked to rally the English to victory.

“This day is called the Feast of St Crispian.
He that outlives this day and came safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian!’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s Day.'”
Act IV, Scene 3 of Shakespeare’s Henry V

26th – King Alfred the Great died on this day in AD 899.

Although he was never canonized, the English church celebrates his feast day.

28th – St Simon and St Jude’s Day 1st century

A joint saints’ day for the saints who worked as a team. Simon and Jude were 1st century Apostles. They were killed in Persia. In art, Jude is represented holding a boat and Simon clutching a fish.

Jude is the patron saint of lost causes and Simon is patron saint of wood cutters.

The weather takes a turn for the worse on St Simon and St Jude’s Day. It marks the traditional last gasp of the tail end of summer, and the onset of wet and windy winter.

On St Jude’s Day
The oxen play.

On St Simon’s Day we throw the sickle away. It’s a day when heavy rain is always forecast.

To catch a glimpse of a future lover, pare an apple without breaking the skin, throw the skin over your left shoulder, and when it lands it will form the initial of the lover’s name. The parer must recite this rhyme and turn three times:

‘St Simon and St Jude, on you I intrude
By this paring I hold to discover,
Without any delay, please tell me this day
The first letter of him my true lover.’

However, the success of this process may be drawn into question by the fact that St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes!

Also on the 28th, in Bedford and the surrounding area, baked Wardens were sold on the streets –

‘Smoking hot, piping hot,
Who knows what I have got?
Hot baked Wardens,
All hot! All hot! All hot!’

Wardens are Warden pears, cooked in red wine with cinnamon and clover.

29th – Sir Walter Raleigh beheaded on this day in 1618.

He observed calmly, ‘I have a long journey to go, therefore must take leave!’

30th – Punkie Night

Rather similar to Hallowe’en, a punkie is a lantern made from a mangold wurzel.

These were hollowed out and lit with candles, then suspended on string and carried around the streets by local children begging for candles. As they parade along, they sing –

It’s Punkie Night tonight, it’s Punkie Night tonight,
Give us a candle, give us a light.
If you don’t you’ll get a fright (or if you haven’t a candle a penny’s all right);
It’s Punkie Night tonight, it’s Punkie Night tonight,
Adam and Eve would never believe it’s
Punkie Night tonight.

31st – Hallowe’en

See separate post














June – Days of the Month

1st – St Wistan’s Day

A Saxon prince who died in AD 850.

2nd – St Elmo’s Day

Patron saint of stomach disorders and bowel troubles.

The flickering electrical flashes seen on ships masts around the time of a storm is named St Elmo’s fire after him.

“Sometime I’d divide and burn in many places: on the topmast,
The yards and bowspit, would I flame distinctly,
Then meet and join.”

4th – St Petroc’s Day

St Petroc founded two monastries in Cornwall, at Padstow and Little Petherick.

5th – St Boniface’s Day

Born in Crediton, Devon, in 675, he wrote England’s first Latin Grammar, and was an influential missionary, converting the German and Frankish tribes. He was murdered in about 754.

7th – St Colman’s Day

His well stands by the ruined Church of Cranfield in County Antrim, and visitors would go and take the water to find a cure for their ills.

8th – St William of York’s Day

William was the nephew of King Stephen and was Archbishop of York in 1141. Thirty six miracles are attributed to him.

Edward the Black Prince died on this day in 1376. He always wore black armour, and gained great honours early, helping to win the Battle of Crecy in 1346, at the age of 16.

Robert the Bruce died on this day in 1329.

9th – St Faustus’ Day and St Columba’s Day

St Faustus said to St Medard, “Barnabas and Vitus are my neighbours, and together we will give the country folk a good washing till Frederick the Hollander (July 18th) comes and closes the doors of Heaven.”

St Columba lived on the Isle of Iona. Credited with numerous miracles, such as driving away a monster that lived in Loch Ness.

“If you wear the flower of St John’s Wort in your armpit like St Columba did, it will ward off evil.”

This day is a very lucky day, especially when it falls on a Thursday, as it does this year (2011).

11th – St Barnabas’ Day

Martyred in AD71. An early Christian disciple companion of St Paul (formerly Saul – a member of the Sanhedrin). A dozen or so ancient churches are dedicated to him.

This day was much celebrated in the 15th and 16th centuries, when churches were decorated with garlands of roses, woodruff and lavender. Collections were made for the poor.

‘Barnaby bright, Barnaby bright,
The longest day and the shortest night!’

St Barnabas’ Day is the traditional start of hay-making. ‘By St Barnabas put scythe to grass.’

When Barnaby bright shines night and day,
Poor ragged robin blooms in the hay.

13th – St Anthony of Padua’s Day

He died in 1231, and is invoked in finding lost objects.

This is the day of the Celtic god Nodons. He had a shrine at Lydney, in the Forest of Dean.


Today in 1645 the Battle of Naseby took place. Charles I and his army suffered a crushing defeat.

15th – St Vitus’ Day

Because angels danced for him (allegedly) when he was in prison, he’s the patron saint of dancers. Also, he is the patron saint of nervous disorders and also helps sluggards get out of bed.

‘If St Vitus’ Day be rainy weather
It will rain for thirty days together.’

On this day in 1215 King John (1167-1216) set his seal on Magna Carta – “Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign” – Magna Carta (1215).


On this day in 1939 a downpour of tiny frogs fell on Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

17th – St Botolph’s Day

Boston in Lincolnshire is named after him – ‘Botolph’s Town’.

Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasant’s Revolt, was killed today in 1381.

18th – The Battle of Waterloo, 1815

21st – Summer Solstice

The shortest night of the year, celebrated by the Druids. People gather at Stonehenge to watch the sun come up over the heel stone (in the erroneous belief that the monument is aligned on the mid-summer sunrise, when it fact it is aligned on the mid-winter moonrise).

Every summer solstice crowds gather at the Parish Church of Edward the Confessor in Leek, Staffordshire, to witness the strange double sunset. From the north east corner of the churchyard, known as Doctor’s Corner, due to the eight doctors buried there, the sun sinks behind Cloud End Hill, only to reappear further north a hew minutes later and set for a second time.

If the cuckoo is heard today, it foretells a wet summer.

22nd – St Thomas Moore’s Day

Executed in 1535, a martyr to the Catholic faith, refusing to recognise Henry VIII as head of the Church.

23rd – Midsummer Eve. Also St John’s Eve

To all young girls – Go clockwise round the church seven times at midnight tonight, and over your left shoulder you will see the form of your future lover.

‘Hempseed I sow, hempseed I sow,
Let him that is my true love come after me and mow.’

Activities on this day included dancing around bonfires, gathering branches and flowers to decorate the home and ward off evil spirits, and performing rituals to see the identity of guture spouses.

“If we shadows have offended
Think but this, and all is mended.
That you have but slumbered here,
While those visions did appear.”
(Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

24th – Midsummer Day / St John the Baptist’s Day

Midsummer was one of the high spots of the festival year in medieval times.

To dream of a future lover tonight, sleep with a lump of coal under your pillow. And it is said if you run backwards around Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex seven times at midnight the devil will appear with a bowl of porridge.

Gooseberries officially ripen today.

St John the Baptist was born 6 months before Christ. He preached in the wilderness of Judaea and baptised converts in the River Jordan (converts to what? – he hadn’t even met Jesus at that time, let alone learned about the new religion). His day has always been a time of outdoor celebration, houses were decorated with greenery, and the ashes of the midsummer fire were used to tell fortunes and foretell the future.

The flower St. John’s Wort was traditionally picked on this day to protect against evil and cure many ailments.

He was a well known saint in England, and his symbol, the lamb, made him popular in the old wool producing countries. Five hundred churches in England are dedicated to him.

“Cut off thistles before St John,
You will have two instead of one.”

‘If the cuckoo sings after St John’s Day, the harvest will be late.

26th – St Anne’s Day

This used to be the date for the old Pershore Fair in Worcestershire, celebrating the cherry harvest.

“The cuckoo comes in April, and sings his song in May.
He buys a horse at Pershore Fair and then he rides away.”

28th – St Peter’s Eve / St Paul’s Eve

This day was formerly marked by festivities and rituals similar to Midsummer Eve. Fairies and witches were said to be about between the two dates. In parts of Lincolnshire young girls believed that they would dream of their future husband if they went to bed with a bunch of keys tied with a lock of their hair.

29th – St Peter’s Day / St Paul’s Day

They were apostles of Jesus Christ, allegedly, who were martyred at Rome by Emperor Nero. Over a thousand churches are dedicated to St Peter. His symbol is the crossed keys.

On this day churches dedicated to St Peter were strewn with sweet meadow hay.

‘Unless the apples are christened by the rain on St Peter’s Day, the crop will not be good.’

Hereward the Wake died on this day in 1071, murdered by the Normans.


Everard Digby died today in 1606. One of the Gunpowder plotters, he was hung, drawn and quartered, and when his heart was plucked from his chest it was declared, “Here is the heart of a traitor!” Digby, crowd pleaser to the last, replied, “Thou liest!”

In 1859 Charles Blondin was the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

In 1894 on this day London’s Tower Bridge was officially opened.

In 1980 the British sixpenny piece ceased to be legal tender.

February Notes

“All the months of the year
Curse a fair Februeer.”

“February fill the dyke
Whether it be black or white.”

“February brings the rain
To thaw the frozen lake again.”

“Married in February’s sleepy weather,
Life you’ll tread in time together.”

“If bees get out in February
The next day will be rough and rainy.”

“If in February the midges dance on the dunghill, lock up your food in the chest.”

“If the cat in February lies in the sun, she will creep under the grate in March.”

“Much February snow a fine summer doth show.”

“If in February there be no rain
‘Tis neither good for hay nor grain.”

“February makes a bridge of ice and March breaks it.”

“As the days lengthen,
So the cold strengthens.”

The Anglo-Saxons called the month of February Solomath (cake month) because cakes and offerings were presented to the gods at this time. It also has the Celtic festival of Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring and the start of the lambing season, and the Roman festival of Februa.

“February comes in like a sturdy country maiden, with a tinge of red, hard winter apple on her healthy cheek, and as she strives against the wind, wraps her russet-coloured cloak well about her, while with bent head she keeps throwing back the long hair that blows about her face. And though at times half blinded by the sleet and snow, still continues her course courageously . . . the mellow voiced blackbird and the speckle breasted thrush make music among the opening blossoms of blackthorn to gladden her way, and she sees faint flushings of early buds here and there, which tell her the long miles of hedgerows will soon be green.”

Days of the Month (1st – 6th February)

1st February.

St Brigid’s, or St Bride’s Day. Patron saint of dairy maids, and her emblem is a cow. One of Ireland’s best loved saints, she was Abbess of Kildare in the late fifth and early sixth centuries. A number of churches are dedicated to her, notably one in Fleet Street, London.

2nd February.

Candlemas. Snowdrops, a symbol of purity, were called Candlemas Bells. This was a day when candles were blessed and given to the congregation to be carried in procession around the parish. It is also the day of the Roman festival, Februa.

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas Day be clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.”

In shoemaking and other indoor trades it was the day on which candles could be dispensed with during working hours.

3rd February.

St Blaise’s Day. St Blaise was a fourth century doctor who once saved a boy who was chocking on a fish bone. This led to the tradition of the Blessing of the Throats ceremony, to heal and cure people suffering from throat conditions.

“Touch the throat and say
Move up and down in the name of St Blaise.”

St Blaise is the patron saint of wool combers.

4th February.

St Gilbert’s Day. He lived in the 12th century.

6th February.

St Dorothy’s Day. Dorothea gives the most snow (reputedly).

Charles II died on this day in 1685.

“Here lies our great and sovereign lord
Whose word no man relies on.
He never said a foolish thing
Nor ever did a wise one.”