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Happy Catterntide

Have you ever heard of Catterntide?


It's a day celebrated by lacemakers, especially in the Midlands, since Tudor times, on St Catherine's Day, 25th November.


Photo of Nottingham Lace Makers
Nottingham Lace Makers

There seems to be a couple of reasons this day was chosen.


Firstly because St. Catherine was considered the patron saint of lacemakers and textile workers


And secondly to honour Queen Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was a fine needlewoman and is credited with teaching lacemaking to a large number of other women.


So the story goes, she heard of the financial plight of struggling English lace makers, whilst imprisoned, after Henry VIII set her aside. She destroyed all of her lace and commissioned more, to give work to the local industry.


Painting of Catherine of Aragon by Lucas Hornebolte, From Wikipedia Commons.
Catherine of Aragon by Lucas Hornebolte, From Wikipedia Commons.

It was mostly a woman's celebration.


There would be food, drink including a traditional cattern cake, spiced with cinnamon, lightly fruited and flavoured with caraway seeds.


Check out this amazing recipe if you fancy trying a cattern cake yourself.



Entertainments would include music, dancing and revolving fireworks would be lit, known as "Catherine Wheels".



Photo of Rotating Catherine wheel in the Netherlands by Peter van der Sluijs (CC)
Rotating Catherine wheel in the Netherlands by Peter van der Sluijs (CC)

 

Who was St Catherine?


St. Catherine of Alexandria is thought to be a princess and noted scholar who converted hundreds of people to Christianity.


At around the age of eighteen, she was tortured on a wheel by Emperor Maxentius for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. The wheel broke and Catherine was eventually beheaded.


She is considered one of the 'Fourteen Holy Helpers' a group of saints acknowledged during the Black Death, who were the best saints to pray to for certain diseases.

 

Stay colourful,

Alison



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