Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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ST. CATHERINE'S DAY
St. Catherine's Day was formerly a festival for the lacetnaken of Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire. She was the patroness of spinsters in the literal as well as the modern sense of the word, and at Peterborough the workhouse girls used to go in procession round the city on her day, dressed in white with coloured ribbons ; the tallest was chosen as Oueen and bore a crown and sceptre. As they went to beg money of the chief inhabitants they sang a quaint ballad which begins thus :
" Here comes Queen Catherine, as fine as any queen, With a coach and six horses a-coming to be seen, And a-spinning we will go, will go, will go, And a-spinning we will go." IO
We may perhaps see in this Saint or Queen Catherine a female counterpart of the Boy Bishop, who began his career on St. Nicholas's Day. Catherine, it must be remembered, is the patron saint of girls as Nicholas is of boys. In Belgium her day is still a festival for the "young person " both in schools and in families.11 Even in modern Paris the dressmaker-girls celebrate it, and in a very charming way, too.
"At midday the girls of every workroom present little mob-caps trimmed with yellow ribbons to those of their number who are over twenty-five and still unmarried. Then they themselves put on becoming little caps with yellow flowers and yellow ribbons and a sprig of orange blossom on them, and out they go arm-in-arm to parade the streets and collect a tribute of flowers from every man they meet. . . . Instead of working all the afternoon, the midinettes entertain all their friends (no men admitted, though, for it is the day of St. Catherine) to concerts and even to dramatic performances in the workrooms, where the work-tables are turned into stages, and the employers provide supper." I2
St. Andrew's Day.
The last day of November is the feast of St. Andrew. Of English customs on this day the most interesting perhaps are those connected with the " Tander" or " Tandrew " merry-
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