Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Today is St. Thomas’s Day

Or is it? The great god Wikipedia says is 21st December, tomorrow. But Rev. J. C. Atkinson in his 1858 tome “Forty Years in a Moorland Parish” writes that it is the 20th December. I am more inclined to believe the Reverend. An old-fashioned book sitting on my shelf has more authenticity. Whatever the day it seems appropriate that I should have doubts for St. Thomas was the original Doubting Thomas. He was the one disciple who doubted Jesus’s resurrection until he had received proof. To confuse matters further if you are of the Roman or Syrian Catholic faiths then St. Thomas is celebrated on 3rd July, or 6th October for the Greek church. Perhaps he should be nominated as the patron saint of the internet, doubt everything.

So in Yorkshire then it’s today, 20th December, when young lads would go around the farms and houses ‘a-Thomassing‘, asking for gifts which would usually be a piece of gingerbread or a slice of pepper cake with a morsel of cheese:

A little bit of pepper cake
A little bit of cheese,
A cup of cold water
And a penny if you please.

Pepper cake, a flattish form of highly spiced gingerbread, originated in the Medieval Ages when the recipe actually included pepper, an expensive ingredient. Today the biscuit is very popular in Scandinavia such as the Norwegian pepparkaka.

Young girls are not left out. In another Yorkshire St. Thomas’s Day tradition a girl could try to find who she will marry by peeling a large red onion and sticking nine pins in it; one in the centre with the others around it. As the girl pressed in the centre pin she would recite the following poem:

Good St Thomas, do me right,
Send my true love to me tonight;
In his clothes and his array,
Which he weareth every day,
That I might see him in the face
And in my arms may him embrace.

She would then place the onion under her pillow and her dreams would be of her future husband.

But there is no doubt that Roseberry is the greatest hill in all of Yorkshire.

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