JANUARY 12 OLD MOORE’S ALMANAC

Old Moore's Almanac for 2022 photo of January
Old Moore’s Almanac for 2022 photo of January

The Alamanac which claims to have begun in 1697 is heavily based on predictions which are mostly astrologically based. It begins with a World Preview of 2022. The economy is going to be uncertain, but growth will start to build from March.

Then there profiles of people such as Joe Biden, Keeley Hawkes, Countess of Wess etc. Biden it appears is unconventional and a maverick. He will surprise everyone by proving himself a modern FDR.

There is a page of predictions for each for star sign; a Chinese horoscope and then a page for each month as illustrated above. At the end are astrological pointers for horse racing, greyhound racing, gardening by the moon, Football pools, Angler’s Guide, lottery numbers. It finishes with a list of UK fairs and events, and lighting up times.

Very similar to almanacs since the 15th Century which I discussed here.

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JANUARY 11TH – NEW YEAR’S EVE OLD STYLE AND CARMENTALIA

1375, French Caesarian Birth, (most likely to have killed the Mother or be performed when the Mother is dead or is dying.)

When Britain reluctantly joined the Gregorian Calenda, in 1752, we lost 11 days, so if you add 11 to 31st December you get to New Year Old Style. You can do this with any date, and when celebrating feel you are being really authentic.

So, anything you do on the New Style 31st Dec. you can do on the 11th – except convince your boss that you have a legitimate reason for not coming to work because of the hangover! In case you have forgotten what you should be doing look here to look back on New Year’s Eve, New Style.

It is probably a particularly ‘witchy’ evening because its the traditional Eve, not the new-fangled one. So, according to Reginald Scot in his ‘Discovery of Witchcraft’ 1584 all you need to do to discover a witch (who has bewitched your cow) is to put your breeches on the cow’s head, and beat the poor animal out of the field with a good cudgel (best done on a Friday). The cow will run right to the witch’s door and strike it with her horns. It does make you wonder whether they really believed this nonsense. Clearly, the cow is most likely to go to the house that is nearest the exit from the field? And why the breeches and not a blindfold? and why be so cruel to the cow? I guess the people who believe this sort of thing are the same type who believe QAnon?

It is also Carmentalia, the festival for the Roman Goddess of prophecy and childbirth. She was a much loved Goddess in the Roman pantheon but little is known about her perhaps because she has no clear match in the Greek.

She has a long history in Roman history being said to be the mother of…. well this may surprise you because I didn’t know this before, she was the mother of Evander and Evander is the founder of Pallantium, which was a City on the site of Rome that predated Rome!

Who knew that? (the people at Vindolanda Roman Fort know and they have a great page on Carmenta here. ) She also commanded one of the the fifteen flamen. These were priests of state sponsored religions. They prohibited anyone coming to the Temple wearing anything of leather.

Carmenta had two sidekicks who were her sisters and attendants. Postvorta and Antevorta, They might be explained by Past and Future. (in fact, after and before). Or dedicated to babies that come out head first or legs first.

Vindolanda make the point that 2% of births in the past are likely to have caused the death of the mother, and, because of a high mortality in the children, to keep a population stable a mother might have to have 5 children on average, giving her a 12% chance of death by giving birth.

Good reason to have a Goddess on the Mum’s side.

JANUARY 8 – 10TH PLOUGH MONDAY, BACK TO WORK AND FALSE SPRING

Medieval scene showing a man plouging with the plough pulled by a bullock from Les_Très_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry
Detail from LesTrès Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Bob Cratchet is back to work by Boxing Day, and of course many people pull a shift that takes them to work through Christmas. But as we saw Distaff Sunday is the day that women traditionally went back to work and Plough Monday was the men’s turn. 2022 it was on the 10th January. Plough Monday was not just a normal day of work though. Particularly in the North it was celebrated with a procession of ‘plough boys’, with a decorated plough and team and known as ‘Fool Plough’. Mumming, sword dancing and foolery propelled people back to work.

Here is a lovely recipe for a ‘Norfolk Plough Pudding‘ brought to my attention by Sue Walker.

The Christmas/Mid Winter break went on for some until Candlemas in early February, and in Jane Austen’s day the school boys had a 6 week holiday at Christmas much to the distress of Mary Musgrove in ‘Persuasion’, Chapter 18. She complains bitterly of children being left with her during the long winter holiday. But as it was written on 1st February I will leave the joy of that great FOMO letter till then.

This is a period when the world is dead but underneath the ground the bulbs are stirring. This year in London, after a very warm period, we have had a lot of premature budding. In my local park Euphorbia’s have been budding, there is blossom on a Japanese Cherry Tree and on a Bear’s Breech. The Park has a high wall facing south and this does provide a very sheltered spot but even so! In my arctic, North-facing garden some geraniums, and fuchsias are hanging on, and I have two white flowers on my Convolvulus which is unheard of.

This has been the hottest period in the world since records have been taken. A false spring can cause major disruption to agriculture. Plants put a lot of energy into surviving the winter so they can bloom in the spring. If they are fooled to bud early, the plant will pay a cost when the cold weather comes back, and this will mean either no flowering or fruiting later in the year or a reduced yield. Caitlin Reinartz, (follow the link above) says ‘the false spring of 2012 caused an estimated $500 million dollars of losses in the orchards of Michigan.’

JANUARY 7TH – ST. DISTAFF’S DAY

I’m not sure what the Three Kings were doing on the day after Epiphany, but if, the Shepherds were like English farmworkers, they would still be on holiday until next Monday. However, the women, according to folk customs, went back to work on the 7th, the day after Epiphany.


In London the Fraternity of St Anne and St Agnes used to meet at the Church in London with that name, and which is near to the Museum of London on the corner of Gresham Street and Noble Street, just by the corner of the Roman Wall. St Agnes is the patron saint of young girls, and St Anne is the mother of the mother of the Son of God, and thereby the three generations of women are represented. Maidens, mothers, and grandmothers, a reminded that this trinity has been honoured in London since the 3 Mother Goddesses in the Roman period. Given this churches attributions it is very strange that the Christopher Wren’s Church was leased by the Lutheran Church from 1966 to 2013

The Three Mother Goddesses (and someone else) in the Museum of London


St. Distaff’s Day is explained best by Robert Herrick (1591–1674)

Partly work and partly play
You must on St. Distaff’s Day:
From the plough soon free your team;
Then come home and fother them;
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give St. Distaff all the right;
Then bid Christmas sport good night,
And next morrow every one
To his own vocation.

Reading Museum's copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry.  King Edward in Westminster. To the right in his Palace. The the left in his coffin on the way to burial in the new built Westminster Abbey
Reading Museum’s copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry. King Edward in Westminster. My Virtual Walk ‘LONDON. 1066 AND ALL THAT VIRTUAL WALK’ is this Sunday 9th Jan. Book here:

JANUARY 6TH – TWELFTH NIGHT (AGAIN)

Drawing for twelfth-cake at St. Annes Hill by Isaac Cruickshank 1807

Yesterday was Twelfth Night for the modern Church of England, but today is Twelfth Night for the Catholic Church and in England in former times. It is the big party night, featuring the famous Twelfth Night Cake which is now called Christmas Cake; (makes sense doesn’t it, why would you want Christmas Dinner, Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake all on the same day? ) and theatrical entertainments; mumming and wassailing.

I gave a recipe for the cake two days ago (here it is) but the important point is that it had a bean and a pea in it. The one who got the bean was selected thereby as King for night and the pea the Queen. Cards were then given to all the participants detailing a role they were to play for the rest of the night, with an introductory speech. The King and Queens led the way and for the rest of the evening the party members adopted the persona of their person. It might be a soldier, a cook, a parson etc. It the illustration above you will see the participants,pulling their role cards out of their hat. In the game the women’s cards were drawn from a ‘reticule’ (bag) and the men’s from a hat. In this case the hat seems to be a revolutionary sans culotte’s cap. Several versions of Cruikshank’s illustration exist, one of the others has ‘speech bubbles which give some idea of the controversy the game might provoke,

This blog post has some interesting additional information about Twelfth Night from which I quote below.

‘Mr and Mrs William Clifford and their seven children (and maid), John Fox snr. and Sally Twining, Mr and Mrs William Fox, and William Weale. To feed this crowd took “Ham, Greens, 3 fowls roasted, Soup, Leg of Mutton, potatoes, Boiled rump of beef (large)” Desert included pudding, mince pies and a forequarter of home lamb. For supper, the assembled party consumed tarts, stuffed beef, mince pies, cold mutton, oysters, cold sliced beef, cold lamb, apple pies and pears. 12th Night Cruikshank, Isaac, 1756-1811 printmaker. Published Janr. 10, 1897 by Thomas Tegg, 111 Cheapside, 1807’

Reading Museum's copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry.  King Edward in Westminster. To the right in his Palace. The the left in his coffin on the way to burial in the new built Westminster Abbey
Reading Museum’s copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry. King Edward in Westminster. My Virtual Walk ‘LONDON. 1066 AND ALL THAT VIRTUAL WALK’ is this Sunday 9th Jan. Book here:

JANUARY 5TH – TWELFTH NIGHT CONTROVERSY

To show a Christmas celebration in the Victorian period, probably twelfth night

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve drummers drumming, Eleven pipers piping, Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

So, finally I have a suggestion as to the basis for the confusion as to when the Twelve Days of Christmas being. Most people agree you start counting from Christmas Day, but some folklore sources going back in time count from Boxing Day. For example Gervase Markham’s ‘The English Husbandman of 1635 counts it from Boxing Day.

The Daily Express reveals to me that the Protestants count from Christmas Day and the Catholics from Boxing Day. That maybe it, but is the confusion more complicated than that? The religious festival really makes sense if it begins with Christmas Day, and ends with the Epiphany, the day the Three Kings from the Orient come to worship Jesus. Also most festivals begin on the Eve, so why does Twelfth Night follow the Twelfth Day rather than precede it? Shouldn’t it be like Christmas Eve, Hallowe’en be called Twelfth Eve?

I suspect there is a fudge going on here. Twelve is the magic number, twelve Apostles, 12 months in the year, so twelve Days of Christmas. But clearly for Christians it stretches from Christmas Day to Epiphany. Two ways to square that 13 day difference. One is to begin the twelve days on Boxing Day, the other is to end with a Twelfth Night party on the Eve of Epiphany.

I don’t think I am alone in being confused. If you know any better let me know! Tomorrow I will look at Twelfth Night festivities.

Reading Museum's copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry.  King Edward in Westminster. To the right in his Palace. The the left in his coffin on the way to burial in the new built Westminster Abbey
Reading Museum’s copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry. King Edward in Westminster. My Virtual Walk ‘LONDON. 1066 AND ALL THAT VIRTUAL WALK’ is this Sunday 9th Jan. Book here:

JANUARY 4TH – THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

Twelfth Night Cake at the Geffrye Museum (now called the Museum of the Home)

On the 11th day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
11 pipers piping; Ten lords a-leaping; Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking; Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings (five golden rings)
Four calling birds; Three French hens; Two turtle-doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

Now is your last chance to make your Twelfth Day cake. This is a recipe from 1604 by Elinor Fettiplace:

Take a peck of flower, and fower pound of currance, one ounce of Cinamon, half an ounce of ginger, two nutmegs, of cloves and mace two peniworth, of butter one pound, mingle your spice and flower & fruit together, but as much barme [the yeasty froth from the top of fermenting beer barrels] as will make it light, then take good Ale, & put your butter in it, saving a little, which you must put in the milk, & let the milk boyle with the butter, then make a posset with it, & temper the Cakes with the posset drink, & curd & all together, & put some sugar in & so bake it.

I found this on the excellent www.britishfoodhistory.com

If you want a more modern recipe, the following is from the BBC. Please remember to add a pea, and a bean to the recipe. These will be useful once you have read my Twelfth Night post.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/twelfth_night_cake_53367

Reading Museum's copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry.  King Edward in Westminster. To the right in his Palace. The the left in his coffin on the way to burial in the new built Westminster Abbey
Reading Museum’s copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry. King Edward in Westminster. My Virtual Walk ‘LONDON. 1066 AND ALL THAT VIRTUAL WALK’ is this Sunday 9th Jan. Book here:

JANUARY 3RD – 10TH DAY OF CHRISTMAS & THE FEAST OF ST GENEVIEVE

priant pour arrêter la pluie lors des moissons, réalisé au XIXe siècle par Alfred Gérente pour orner le corridor de la nouvelle sacristie de Notre-Dame de Paris.
Saint Geneviève praying for the end of the rain. 19th Century by Alfred Gérente Notre-Dame de Paris.

Two pieces of weather lore from Richard Inwards book of the same name:

Janiveer freeze the pot by the fire
As the day lengthens
So the cold strengthens

In January should the sun appear
March and April will pay full dear.

And remember we are still following Gervase Markham, suggesting that the weather on the 10th Day of Christmas will rule the weather in the 10th Month. So October will be sunny at first, then grey, but warm.

St Genevieve of Nanterre has her feast day today. Nanterre is an ancient settlement swallowed up by modern Paris. Genevieve is a most remarkable women who met St Germanus on his way to Britain and became a consecrated virgin at the age of 15. She led an aesthetic life of fasting and prayer. In 451 she led the Parisians in prayer on the approach of the Huns led by Attila, and is credited with his decision not to attack the City. She lived to 89.

Incidently, Nanterre has an interesting prehistory. The name in Celtic means ‘enduring sacred site’, and a big cemetery found there makes it possibly the original site of Paris, or at least an important early site. Julius Caesar attended an assembly with local Gallic leaders in the area. The topography of Nanterre fits as well as the Île de la Cité some argue.

ARCHIVES OF EVENTS & WALKS

LONDON. 1066 AND ALL THAT VIRTUAL WALK

Reading museum's copy of the Bayeaux tapestry showing King Edward in the Palace, the new Westminster Abbey and Edward's funeral procession.
Westminster & Edward the Confessor on Reading Museum’s copy of the Bayeaux Tapestry


Virtual Zoom Walk 7.30pm on Sunday 9th January 2022

The Archaeological Walk that explores London at the end of the Saxon period and at the beginning of the Norman.

The Norman Conquest of 1066 defines Britain in a way unmatched by any other event. And on this walk we explore the London that William conquered and how he changed England for all time.

London was England’s most important City but not yet the capital. It was crucial to William in his attempt to conquer the realm but he failed to capture London. He failed to push his army across the heavily defended London Bridge after the defeat of the English King at the Battle of Hastings.

The future of the country was in the balance as he sought to find a way across the river and to persuade the English that resistance was hopeless. Eventually, the English leaders sued for peace, and William was crowned at the newly built Westminster Abbey. But as the Saxons acclaimed the new King, his guards became alarmed and slaughtered the Saxons.

He then set about making sure he kept hold of his new Kingdom and its most important City. He and his sons not only transformed London that dealt a death blow to Anglo-Saxon culture.

This walks begins at Westminster Abbey, explores Late Saxon and Norman London and ends at the Tower of London

Walk is by Kevin Flude, former Archaeologist at the Museum of London

RING IN THE NEW YEAR VIRTUAL WALK

Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower
Druids at All Hallows, by the Tower

On this walk we look at how London has celebrated the New Year over the past 2000 years, and using our crystal ball look forward to what will befall London in 2022

Sunday January 2nd 2022 7.30pm

We look at London’s past to see where and how the Solstice might be celebrated. We also explore the different New Years we use and their associated Calendars – the Pagan year, the Christian year, the Roman year, the Jewish year, the Financial year, the Academic year and we reveal how these began. We look at folk traditions, Medieval Christmas Festivals, Boy Bishops, Distaff Sunday and Plough Monday, and other New Year London tradition and folklore.

At the end we use ancient methods to divine what is in store for us in 2022.

The walk finds interesting and historic places in the City of London to link to our stories of Past New Year’s Days. We begin, virtually, at Barbican Underground and continue to the Museum of London, the Roman Fort; Noble Street, Goldsmiths Hall, Foster Lane, St Pauls, Dr Commons, St. Nicholas Colechurch and on towards the River.

To book