It's Thanksgiving week for those of us here in
November 1 All Saints' Day
November 2 All Souls' Day
Little distinction seems to have been made between the two days (which were also sometimes called Hallowmas; look familiar?). The celebrations included going "souling": wandering door to door for gifts of soul cakes or money and mugs of hot cider. The children even had a traditional song:
A soul-cake, a soul-cake
Have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul-cake.
The giving of the cakes was supposed to help the giver's soul, while the consumption was supposed to help those in purgatory (don't ask me how). This idea fell away with the Reformation, but bands of souling children making house calls continued . . .
November 5 Guy Fawkes Night
I'm sure many of you are at least passingly familiar with Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605. Bonfires rule the night, fireworks too. Often the pope was burnt in effigy (Fawkes being a Catholic), and anti-Catholic riots were not uncommon. In the northern counties, an oatmeal gingerbread called Parkin was baked and given out (recipes dating as far back as 1800 can be found).
I love specific local customs! In Fenny Stratford, starting in 1724, an annual sermon is read in memory of a local squire. At the end, six small cannons are fired off, at noon, 2PM and 4PM.
November 13 St. Brice's Day
More local customs: this Saint's Day is celebrated in
November 17 Queen Elizabeth Day
Sermons, bonfires and ringing bells. So popular was this day that Charles I felt it overshadowed the celebrations for his own birthday!
More fun local customs: In Buckinghamshire and Northhamptonshire they celebrated by going out into the woods to kill squirrels, though mostly the hunt was an excuse to wander about, make merry, and be as loud as possible.
Also on St. Andrew’s Day (from 1766 on) is the famous Wall Game at
Any strange local holidays or festivals where you live?