British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Sept. si.]                  st. Matthew's day.                             373
piece of the cross by the Emperor Heraclius, after it had been taken away on the plundering of Jerusalem by Chosroes, King of Persia.
It appears to have been customary to go a-nutting upon this day, from the following passage in the old play of Grim the Collier of Croydon:
" This day, they say, is called Holy-Rood Day, And.all the youth are now a-nutting gone."
In the Gent. Mag. is the following :—"Tuesday, September 14th, 1731, being Holy-Rood Day, the king's huntsmen hunted their free buck in Eichmond New Park, with bloodhounds, according to custom."
It appears from the MS. Status Scholce Etonensis, 1560, already quoted, that, in the month of September, " on a certain day," most probably the 14th, the boys of Eton School were to have a play-day, in order to go out and gather nuts, a portion of which, when they returned, they were to make presents of to the different masters. Before leave, however, was granted for their excursion, they were required to write verses on the fruitfulness of autumn, the deadly cold, &c, of the coming winter.
At Chertsey a fair is held on Holy-Rood Day (Old Style), and goes by the name of " Onion Fair," from the quantity of this esculent brought for sale.—Brayley, History of Surrey 9 1841, vol. ii. p. 191.
Sept. 2i.]              ST. MATTHEW'S DAY.
In Brayley's Londiniana (1829, vol. ii. p. 30) is the follow­ing extract from the MS. copy of the journal of Richard Hoare, Esq., during the year of his shrievalty, 1740-41:—
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