The Everyday Lore Project

10 August 2020 – St Lawrence’s Day

10 August 2020 – St Lawrence’s Day

There’s dissent in the folklore world over the origins of the expression ‘Lazy Lawrence’ – to behave in a sluggardly or indolent fashion, to be ‘as lazy as Lawrence’s dog’. Some say it derives from a C16th ballad called Lusty Lawrence, others from a C17th chapbook entitled The History of Lawrence Lazy, also known as The Infamous History of Sir Lawrence Lazy. 

Others reckon it stems from the saying Lawrence bids wages, or St Lawrence bids wages which somehow means duvet days are more attractive than working.

Some say the expression is named for a sprite called Lawrence who whispers words of idle life encouragement (oh Sprite, thy real name is Twitter).

Whilst others attach the saying to St Lawrence, whose day it is today, because when roasting on a gridiron, he allegedly said:

Assum est. Versa et manduca

Or This side’s done; turn me over, and get stuck in, his lack of ambition in sorting himself out on this barbecue of death being the epitome of idleness. Incidentally, St Lawrence is also the Patron Saint of comedians and bakers.

And then there are those who denounce the ones who say that the saint is involved at all.

And then more still who bung in some weatherlore, stating that ‘St Lawrence weather’ being so hot and Dog Day humid makes everyone lethargic. 

But frankly, it’s too muggy for me to give much of a toss. So stick a fork in my arse and turn me over, I’m calling it: St Lawrence weather and ‘a touch of old Lawrence’ for today’s folklore win.


Header: The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence by Jacobello del Fiore (1370-1439)

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Hazlitt, W.C. (1995) The Dictionary of Faiths and Folklore, Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs, London, Bracken Books

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

Simpson, J. and Roud, S. (2001) Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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