Friday, January 25, 2008

January 25 in Medieval History: A Medieval Feast Day

January 25 was designated St. Paul's Day by the Catholic Church in the early Medieval period. The day was noted in calendars and observed starting in the 8th and 9th centuries, and noted as "a holiday of obligations" in most churches. Later medieval records also mention it, including the council of Oxford in 1222, during the time of Henry III.

January 25 was also associated with the same weather custom as our Groundhog's Day. Instead of predicting on February 2 when spring will come, they forecast the whole year based on this day a week earlier. They didn't use a groundhog, but it was said that if January 25 was a fair weather day, the year would be prosperous. However, if the day was snowy or rainy, look ahead to an unfruitful year. Clouds on that day foretold great losses of cattle, and winds predicted war.

From Chambers' Book of Days comes this English translated poem for St. Paul's Day:

If St. Paul's day be fair and clear,
lt does betide a happy year;
But if it chance to snow or rain,
Then will be dear all kind of grain;
If clouds or mists do dark the skie,
Great store of birds and beasts shall die;
And if the winds do flie aloft,
Then war shall vexe the kingdome oft.'

Some other interesting things that happened on January 25:
1327 -- King Edward II of England was deposed on this day. His son, Edward III, was still a boy but took charge about three years later, ousting his mother and executing her lover, Roger Mortimer, who had been responsible for Edward II's subsequent murder.

1503 -- A royal marriage took place in England, as Princess Margaret, daughter of Henry VII, married King James IV of Scotland. She was only thirteen at the time, and the groom was not actually there, it being a marriage by proxy only. (The wedding was observed in Edinburgh on August 8, 1503.) Margaret, older sister of Henry VIII, became the grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and great-grandmother of King James I of England.

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