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High Days, Holidays and Anniversaries – October and November 2019
Chinese National Holiday. 1868 St Pancras Station opened.
October 6th Harston Harvest Festival, and lunch in Village Hall
October 12th Columbus made landfall in the New World 1492
October 13th Hauxton Harvest Festival
14th October Canadian Thanksgiving Day. 1066 Battle of Hastings
15th October The 1987 storms.
21st October Apple Day, celebrating apples and orchards
31st October Martin Luther nailed up the 95 Theses in 1517
31st – November 2nd
The holy days of All Saints and All Souls were imposed on the pagan festival of Samhain, meaning ‘summers end’. Hallowe’en predates the Christian era. People believed that, as the winter nights got longer and darkness prevailed, evil spirits became stronger. Bonfires were lit and the ashes sprinkled over the fields. The ancient Celts saw Samhain as a spiritual time, especially for communion with departed spirits. Modern American Hallowe’en is now a commercial festival; pumpkins are hollowed out and lit to make a ghostly, grinning face; spookiness is celebrated; children knock on doors and ask ‘Trick or Treat’. This possibly has its distant origins in the custom of going ‘a-souling’ on All Souls day to beg for soul cakes to place on family graves to feed the dead returning to earth to taste ordinary food.
November 1st ALL SAINTS DAY was established in 609 CE honouring all saints who have no saint’s day of their own. This is followed by All Souls' Day (also known as ‘the day of the dead’) remembering everyone who has died. Church services are held, in which the names of people who have died in the previous year are read out.
November 10th Remembrance Sunday, remembering the war dead. Ceremonies at Hauxton and Harston War Memorials.
November 14th 1896 London-Brighton run, celebrating the speed limit increase from 4 to 14mph
November 20th 1947 Wedding of the Queen and Prince Philip.
November 26th The Great Storm in southern England in 1703: 8,000 killed.
November 30th St Andrew (of Scotland and Russia) martyred in Patras on an X shaped cross.
High Days, Holidays and Anniversaries – August and September 2019
August 1st Lammas or Loaf-Mass Day: one
of the four great pagan festivals of Britain, celebrating the first-fruits of
the earth. One of the customs associated with Lammas Fairs was ‘handfasting’ whereby a couple could begin a
trial marriage for a year, then choose whether to stay together or apart for
the rest of their lives. In 1834,
slavery was abolished in the British Empire.
August 2nd In 1100, William II ‘Rufus’ killed by an arrow in the New Forest.
August 3rd League football resumes and August 10th Premier League resumes.
August 15th In 1830, the first railway fatality at the opening of the Liverpool-Manchester route. William Huskisson MP struck by The Rocket.
August 15th In 1620, the Mayflower began its nine week journey to Cape Cod.
August 24th St Bartholomew’s Day. In 1572, thousands of Huguenots were massacred in France. In 1814, British troops burnt the White House. In weather lore, this day is thought to herald the cooler Autumn.
August 26th In 1994, the first battery-powered heart implanted at Papworth Hospital.
August 27th In 1883 Krakatoa erupted.
August 28th In 1963, Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.
August 29th In 1893, patenting of the first zip.
August 31st Death of Princess Diana in 1997.
September 1st St Giles Day. In 1843 Parson Hawker held the first Harvest Festival.
September 14th Holy Cross Day. The Devil’s Nutting Day. In 1211 King John chartered the leper hospital at Barnwell to hold a fair. By 1589, Cambridge’s Stourbridge Fair was the largest and most famous in Europe, with traders from all over Europe.
September 19th First carpet sweeper patented by Melville Bissell 1876
September 25th Battle of Stamford Bridge 1066. Vikings defeated.
September 26th Concorde’s first trans-atlantic flight. RIP 1973-2003
September 28th Norman invasion in 1066. In 1745, first performance of ‘God Save the King’
September 29th Michaelmas, for St Michael, Archangel, conqueror of evil. Good weather presages a fine Christmas.
High Days, Holidays and Anniversaries – June and July 2019
June 1st The Glorious First, named for Lord Howe’s defeat of the French in 1794.
June 2nd Twenty million watch the Coronation on TV in 1953.
June 3rd June Bank Holiday
June 6th D Day landings in 1944, part of Operation Overlord
June 9th Pentecost commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles in Jerusalem fifty days after the resurrection. Better known in Britain as Whitsun. In north-west England the whole week was a holiday, with the highlight the Whit Walks.
July 8th The Sovereign’s official birthday. Trooping the Colour
June 10th The Duke of Edinburgh’s 99th birthday
Trinity Sunday, recognized by the Pope as a festival day in 1334.
After Pentecost all three manifestations of God have been completed.
Fathers’ Day in the USA.
June 23rd Midsummer Eve, before Midsummer Day on 24th.
July 12th Battle of the Boyne 1690
July 13th Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia 1985
July 14th Sea Sunday and Disability Awareness Day
July 16th First atomic bomb detonated in New Mexico
July 17th Refugee Week. July 20th World Refugee Day, Feast of Corpus Christi.
July 20th ‘One Giant Step for Mankind’ 1969
July 22nd St Mary Magdalene, patron saint of pharmacists, hairdressers, prostitutes and sinners.
July 24th Gibraltar captured by the British in 1704
July 29th First Scout camp with Baden Powell on Brownsea Island
July 30th ‘They think it’s all over’ 1966
July 31st First public use of the Royal Mail 1635
High Days and Holidays - April and May 2019
April 1st All Fools Day originated five hundred years ago. If two lovers chose some poor individual to be their go-between, that person was called a poisson d’avril. This became the term for anyone sent on a fool’s errand, like finding elbow grease or pigeon’s milk. Hoaxing has been taken to new levels by the media, with reports about the spaghetti harvest or the island of San Seriffe. Joking must end by 12 noon or ‘You’re the fool and I am none’.
April 14th Palm Sunday which marks the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, riding on an ass. The people welcomed him by laying palms in his way, symbolising victory and later martyrdom. Since the Middle Ages church-goers have had palm crosses blessed by their priest on this day, which marks the start of Holy Week
April 18th Maundy Thursday takes its name from the Latin mandatum (commandment). At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, indicating that following God involves humble service. It has been customary for popes, monarchs, bishops and priests to wash the feet of the poor. The last British monarch to do so was James II, but the custom of the monarch presenting gifts survives. The Queen distributes the Maundy money in a different cathedral each year, giving two purses of money to the same number of men and women as her age.
April 21st Easter Day, which celebrates the resurrection of
Christ, takes its name from the pre-Christian goddess of dawn, Easter. It is a
movable feast, its date governed by a calculation agreed at the Council of
Nicaea in 325.
April 19th Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion, probably gets its name from ‘God’s Friday’. Many eat fish rather than meat and hot cross buns are popular. Because Christ was crucified on a Friday, and there were 13 people at the Last Supper, there is a superstition that Friday 13th is unlucky.
April 23rd St George’s Day is marked by few festivities in England, despite campaigns to make it a public holiday. Blame Henry VII who banned the worship of saints. April 23rd is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.
May 1st Labour Day and since 1978 there has been a public holiday attached, falling this year on May 6th. Older traditions had to do with bringing in the may (hawthorn) and decorating doors and windows with this and other flowers. The May Queen and maypole dancing possibly have their origins in the Roman festival of Floralia.
May 6th Ramadan begins for followers of Islam.
May 27th and 29th Rogation Days (from the Latin rogare, to ask), a time when rural communities asked God’s blessing on the crops.
May 30th Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, is the time when Christians celebrate the ascension of Christ into heaven.