1st Traditionally the date when the English Pudding Season started. The traditional English pudding was savoury rather than sweet and filled with steak, leeks, mushrooms and spices; some were cooked for up to sixteen hours. Although many almanacs insist this is the ‘official start of the pudding season’ in England, there does not appear to be any authoritative text on the subject. If we looks at the old recipes for pudding, it rapidly becomes obvious (and many historians and etymologists agree) that the meaning of the term is difficult to pin down. The word appears to find its origin in an old French term describing a blood-sausage stuffed into animal intestines that the Normans brought with them when they invaded the British Isles in the 12th century. A modern direct descendant of those original puddings are the black and white puddings of the United Kingdom and Ireland – boiled, sliced, and often fried up for breakfast. Puddings really exploded onto the culinary scene around the 14th century when someone discovered that a piece of cloth was a viable substitute for natural casings. There were dozens, if not hundreds of different kinds of puddings: boiled puddings, dripping puddings (e.g., Yorkshire), plum, marrow, and pastry puddings. There were regional and local puddings. There were bread puddings that used bread crumbs and bread-and-butter puddings that actually used slices of bread … [Savouring The Past]. Today: Serve up a traditional ‘pudding’ for supper.
3rd Nottingham Goose Fair. The autumn brings with it the legendary Nottingham Goose Fair, one of the greatest fairs in the United Kingdom and an event whose popularity remains undiminished by the passage of time. Officially opened on the first Thursday in October, its exact age is unknown, as it had already been in existence for some years when it was confirmed by charter in 1294. Until it was supplanted by turkey, roast goose was the traditional dish at many festivals. Around Michaelmas, goose-herds would drive flocks of up to 20,000 geese to be sold at long-established goose fairs. (See Michaelmas)
9th All-Hallown Summer. The second summer, or the ‘summerly time’ that sets in about All-Hallowstide. Called by the French L’ete de St Martin (from 9th October to 11th November) or St Martin’s Summer.
9th Tewkesbury Mop Fair is the largest street fair in Gloucestershire and one of the oldest fairs in the country, that takes place annually on October 9th and 10th. Earliest records so far date the origins of the fair to the 12th century. Today: A good day for a ritual cleansing of the home before battening down the hatches for the winter.
Weather-lore: ‘When berries are many in October, beware a hard winter’.
11th Old Michaelmas Day. In medieval England, Michaelmas marked the ending and beginning of the husbandman’s year. Farm workers, labourers, servants and some craftsmen would work for their employer from October to October. At the end of the employment (the day after Michaelmas) they would attend the Mop Fair dressed in their Sunday best clothes and carrying an item signifying their trade. A servant with no particular skills would carry a mop head – hence the phrase Mop Fair. Today: Serve roast goose in keeping with the season.
13th Feast Day of St Edward the Confessor was among the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England, and usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex – and the true patron saint of England. About a century after his death, in 1161, Pope Alexander III canonised the late king. His feast day is 13th October, celebrated by both the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Today: Light a candle in memory.
13th Destruction of the Order of Knights Templar At dawn on Friday, 13th October 1307 (a date sometimes linked with the origin of the Friday 13th superstition) Philip IV of France ordered Jacques de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested. Most Templars in England were never arrested, and the persecution of their leaders was brief; nearly any site in England which uses the name ‘Temple’, can probably be traced to Templar ownership. The Temple Church still stands on the site of the old Preceptory in London, and effigies of Crusading Templars can still be seen there today. The land was later rented to lawyers who use it today as Inner Temple and Middle Temple. Today: Light a candle in memory.
13th Fontinalia, a Roman festival in honour of Fontus, the god of springs, fountains and wells. Throughout the city, fountains and well-heads were adorned with garlands. Ancient history suggests that water was considered a miracle that deserved worship. Sources of water, such as rivers, wells and springs, were often times considered to be homes of the gods.
14th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (or the Battle of Senlac Hill 1066) when Harold – the last Anglo-Saxon king of England – was slain and the Norman Conquest of England began.
21st Apple Day: This annual celebration of apples and orchards is a modern festival, although the pagan festival Pomonia, for the Roman orchard Goddess Pomona, was soon after on 1st November, marking the end of the apple harvest and coinciding with the Old Calendar. Today: Pick enough crab apples to make a jelly to serve with roast or cold meats.
28th St Simon’s and St Jude’s Day traditionally marks the end of fine weather in the agricultural calendar.
31st Samhain. John Stow in his Survey of London (1603), gives a description of the appointment of the Lord of Misrule: ‘These Lordes beginning their rule on Alhollon Eue
[Halloween], continued the same till the morrow after the Feast of the Purification, commonlie called Candlemas day: In all which space there were fine and subtle disguisinges, Maskes and Mummeries, with playing at Cardes for Counters, Nayles and pointes in euery house, more for pastimes then for gaine.’
31st Hallowe’en according to the Church calendar was the time when ghosts roamed abroad and is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from Celtic harvest festivals with pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, and that this festival was much later Christianised as Halloween. According to Robin Skelton in Earth, Air, Fire, Water the following is one of the many rhymes collected together under the title of ‘Mother Goose’, which are taken from several sources including Halliwell, Chambers, Sharp and Hazlitt. Today: Join in the modern revels or sit at home with the candles burning to welcome in any passing spirits. An ideal opportunity for divining the future
31st Teanlay Night: The vigil of All Souls, or the last evening of October, when bonfires were lighted and revels held for succouring souls in purgatory. Today: Light the candles or the patio heater and keep Vigil.