Not one, not two, but three calendar customs collided today. And seeing as I was curious, hungry, and wet, I tried them all.
First the weather. It’s St Simon and St Jude’s Day. St Simon, the patron saint of lumberjacks, and St Jude the patron saint of desperation, preside over crappy weather today. For it is said that it will surely rain like f*ck on St Simon and St Jude’s Day. And it did. Sloshed it down. So folklore for the soggy win!
Next, today in Bedfordshire, it was traditional for to sell and eat baked wardens. Wardens are a type of pear, a bit like quinces, with some recipes interchanging the two. But I used comices, mainly because of Saints Simon and Jude pissing it down, and I didn’t want to walk to the shop where the quinces are, but also, comices look a lot like wardens and cook quicker.
There are also two versions of baked wardens. The one from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale uses paste, or pastry to make the pears into a pie, the other steams them in wine. I went with the wine. Obviously.
So I peeled, basted and baked my pears. However, I didn’t shout out of my kitchen window:
Who knows what I have got?
In a hot pot?
Baked Wardens, all hot!
like the old Bedfordshirians used to do, as that would just be asking for trouble. Instead I ate them. Well, one of them. Except for the faint aftertaste of ginger, despite the wine, the saffron, the sugar, and the cinnamon, they didn’t really taste of anything other than deliciousness. But then it’s possible I might have wolfed mine far too fast to really taste anything anyway.
And finally, while I was waiting for the wardens to come out of the oven, I did a spot of love divination. For it’s said that St Simon and St Jude’s Day is THE day to do the famous apple peel reveal. Personally, I think it was someone whose crush’s name began with an S that started the whole skin of an apple peeled in one go will form the initial of your one true love rumour.
Anyhow, I’ve never had much luck with the one-go peel, so I may have cheated a little by using a knife rather than a parer. My ever so slightly thicker skin held together and I managed to deglove my apple in one.
Then I held the peel in my right hand, turned round sunwise three times while chanting:
St Simon and Jude, on you I intrude
By this paring I hold to discover
Without any delay, to tell me this day
The first letter of my own true lover
Now, I’m not sure if I was supposed to say this invocation once every turn, or over the three turns. So I did over the three, otherwise the turns would have been long enough for me to go out into the street and back. And it was raining. However reading and turning made me want to fall over. So after throwing the peel over my left shoulder, I balanced myself against a kitchen chair and waited for the world to stop spinning. Once it did, I saw this:
You see, rigged for the Ss. Or maybe it’s a W? Or an M? Or an E? O? But it doesn’t really matter. You see the peel broke, and broken peel is said to mean that I shall probably remain unmarried. Shocker. Now where’s the rest of that wine.
The Everyday Lore Project has been running since St Distaff’s Day on 7 January 2020 and will run until 12th Night on 6 January 2021. Everyday I write about the folklore I’ve experienced that day, much like the above. But funnier. Much funnier. And better crafted. Trust me. Or search for yourself. So please share my posts with wild abandon, as there are not too many days left now.
Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Jones, J. and Deer, B. (1987) Cattern Cakes and Lace, London, Dorling Kindersley Limited
Kightly, C. (1994) The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore, London, Thames and Hudson Ltd.