The Everyday Lore Project

19 May 2020 – St Dunstan’s Day

19 May 2020 – St Dunstan’s Day

Today I put a message in a bottle. And when I say I put a message in a bottle, I mean I put a note in an empty pickle jar. Today is St Dunstan’s Day, aka the beginning of Frankinmas. In very similar stories, St Dunstan and a man called Frankan (or Frankum), a beer (or perry) brewer, had a run in with the Devil, which resulted in the Devil blighting the apple crop between 19 -21 May (or 17-19 May) with a touch of frost. But I can’t say for sure if there was actually any frost today, as I completely forgot to look. 

In other times, I would have taken a trip today to Mayfield, East Sussex to go in search of St Dunstan’s tongs as it’s said that in another run in with the Devil, St Dunstan trapped Old Nick by the nose with a red-hot pair which apparently are still on show in the village. But I couldn’t really justify a two hour round trip to see some legendary ironmongery as essential. Hence the pickle jar.

So the craic with the message in a bottle is that on a piece of paper, I write down a secret desire I wish to fulfil, fold the paper, pop it in a bottle or jar, put a lid on it, meditate over it for three days and then on Friday, finish the spell. 

Trouble is, I couldn’t really think of a secret desire. Most of my desires are pretty much out there. But after a while, I managed to come up with something quantifiable. Best not to be wishy washy about these things. So now I have three days of homework before letting the wish out of the jar, along with a faint whiff of dill. 

But the big news today was the kidney beans! I have literally been sat at my desk watching them sprout. Here’s midday:

And here’s 6.30pm:

The temptation to lift the soily hat off the nearest one is obscene, but I’m resisting. For now. But if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, check the news for giant beanstalk sightings.


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

Neff, A. (ed) (2019) Llewellyn’s 2020 Witches’ Spell-A-Day Almanac, Holidays & Lore, Spells, Rituals & Meditations, Woodbury, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

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

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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