British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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428                                 ST. CATHERINE S DAY.                      [NOV. 2$.
If we set a spinning, we will either work or play, But if we set a spinning we can earn a crown a day. And a spinning we will go, &c.
And if there be some young men, as I suppose there's some, We'll hardly let them stand alone upon the cold stone. And a spinning we will go, &c."
St. Catherine being the patron of the spinners, as well as of spinsters, and spinning being formerly the employment of the females at the workhouse, it naturally followed that they should be selected to commemorate the anniversary of this Saint; and that this commemoration is of great antiquity appears from the early entries in the Dean and Chapter's accounts of payments on St. Catherine's Day for wheels and reels for the children of the workhouse.—Baker, Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases, 1854, vol. ii. p. 436.
A correspondent of N. & Q. (4th S. vol. ii. p. 332), allud­ing to the above custom, says that it was not confined to Peterborough, but was observed throughout the whole of the Northamptonshire lace-making districts, as well as in those of Bedfordshire. According to popular tradition the custom is derived from one of the Queens Catherine in the time of Henry VIII.—probably from Catherine Parr, who was a Northamptonshire woman. By some this day is called " Candle Day," from its forming the commencement of the season for working at lace-making by candle-light.
Isle of Thanet.
On St. Catherine's Day in the Isle of Thanet, the carters place a small figure on a wheel on the front of their cart sheds.—N. & Q. 2nd 8. vol. v. p. 235.
Worcestershire.
In this county the children go round to the farmhouses collecting apples and beer for a festival, and sing the follow­ing lines:
" Catherine and Clement, be here, be here, Some of your apples, and some of your beer; Some for Peter, and some for Paul, And some for Him that made us all.
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