Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club
I love marking the passage of the year, making sure the seasons don’t merge into bland anonymity. We all know the big festivals, but throughout the year there are hundreds of other celebrations which have been largely forgotten.
To celebrate these days I have picked a different festival each month and will create a rolag gift box fitting the theme.
The boxes are designed either as a spinning taster box, or to work together as a collection, spinning a little each month until you have enough of your own handspun yarn to create something really special, be it a scarf, a cushion, a set of boot cuffs, or whatever your imagination can conjure up.
This announcement was made on the 10th of October, allowing an introduction to a forgotten festival:
Devil’s Blackberry Day.
Although there is some debate over the date of this festival, the most agreed date is October the 10th. Legend has it that blackberries should never be gathered and eaten after this date. The story goes that this is the day St. Michael kicked the devil out of heaven. He fell to earth and landed ignominiously in a blackberry bush. This would probably rile the best of us and satan responded (rather mildly) by spitting on the blackberries. Satan’s spit is said to magically reappear each year to poison the berries. According to thepastonaplate.com there is some botanical truth here, as a species of fly appears around mid-October each year to lay its eggs on the remaining berries. So remember to enjoy your blackberries before October hits, and stick to the blackberry jam thereafter. x
November 23rd: St. Clement’s Day
Welcome to the very first Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!
This November we are celebrating St. Clement’s Day on November 23rd.
Although more well known from the traditional rhyme about London’s church bells, St Clement, a 4th century Christian martyr, is the patron saint of blacksmiths. His feast day was popular until relatively recently, and blacksmiths would parade with an effigy of “Old Clem” to beg for alms (which was called “clementing”), with the money donated to fund a local feast. Such feasts became known as Clem Suppers.
If you’re familiar with the halloween game of apple-bobbing, you have St. Clement to thank! This game was traditionally played on November 23rd, and leads to the alternative name for St. Clement’s day of “Bite Apple Day”.
Most appropriately for fibre fans, Clementide Sheep Fairs were held in certain counties at this time, and Clementing cakes were traditionally sold. In this box you will find fibre for spinning, a cake recipe, tea and more. I hope you enjoy rolag club, and I can’t wait until next time.
In this box you should find:
- An introduction to St. Clement’s Day
- 20g of rolags in “Oranges” 60% Merino, 40% Tussah silk and a bit of sparkle.
- 10g of rolags in “And Lemons” 40% Merino, 40% Soya bean fibre, 20% Texel and a bit of sparkle.
- A handspun mini skein in “Citrus leaves”
- Stitch markers from Hooklicious
- An organza bag to keep your working fibre safe and clean
- Lemon and mandarin tea
- A recipe for St. Clement’s Tartlets
- The history of “Oranges and Lemons”
St. Clement’s Tartlets
8oz/225g shortcrust pastry
3oz/75g butter, softened
2 eggs, separated
¼ tsp vanilla essence
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
- Roll out the pastry and use it to line individual tartlet tins.
- carefully remove the rind from the orange and lemon and chop very finely.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Beat the egg yolks and gradually stir into the butter/sugar mixture.
- Juice the orange.
- Add 2 tbsp orange juice to the mixture. Stir in citrus rinds and vanilla essence.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the mixture.
- Pour into the pastry cases and bake for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Reference: Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Dorling Kindersley 1987
Oranges and Lemons
Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
The first printed version of this nursery rhyme appeared in 1744, with quite different lyrics:
Two Sticks and Apple,
Ring ye Bells at Whitechapple,
Old Father Bald Pate,
Ring ye Bells Aldgate,
Maids in White Aprons,
Ring ye Bells a St. Catherines,
Oranges and Lemons,
Ring ye bells at St. Clements,
When will you pay me,
Ring ye Bells at ye Old Bailey,
When I am Rich,
Ring ye Bells at Fleetditch,
When will that be,
Ring ye Bells at Stepney,
When I am Old,
Ring ye Bells at Pauls
As you can imagine, there is variation, including regional variation, in the names of the churches, and the rhymes ascribed to the bells of each church. It is thought that this traditional rhyme would be sung on festival days, when the church bells would be ringing in celebration. So why “Oranges and Lemons”? There are two churches identified as the St. Clement’s church of the rhyme. Both are located near the wharf where merchants would have brought citrus fruits to London from warmer lands.