HISTORY, ROMANCE AND...CATS!
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a vet by day and author of intelligent historical fiction by night. Grace is an avid reader and believes that smart people need to read romance - as an antidote to the modern world!
Grace is also obsessed by all things feline.
Did you know that September 14th is ‘the Devil’s
folk tradition dating back over 450 years connects Holy Cross Day on September
14th with another custom called ‘nutting’.Originally, the feast day took place to commemorate a piece of the True
Cross that was recovered and stored safely in Constantinople, in 629 BC. But as is
the nature of events, in 1560 some Eton schoolboys were granted a
half-day holiday on Holy Cross Day and decided to amuse themselves by gathering
“All the youths are now a-nutting gone.”
Grim the Collier of Croydon- a popular
17th century play.
The nuts in
question are hazelnuts with the nuts ripening in hedgerows from September
onwards. Hazelnuts have many links to folk lore and have associations with wisdom
and power (it is a hazel rod that should be used for water divining) The phrase
‘going a nutting’ crops up regularly
in 17th century songs and plays, and was a by word for sex and
seduction – young people being alone in the woods ...! Such was the link between
collecting nuts and more risque activities that a popular expression in 1660 was:
“A good year for nuts, a good year for
Eton College in 1690
years the Devil became associated with the collecting of nuts, although exactly
how these two things became linked is not clear, (perhaps parents invoked the devil to
discourage their offspring from getting pregnant!) Country folk were warned not
to go nutting on Sundays as the Devil would be disguised as a gentleman and trick them by
offering to pull down the top branches.
the Devil was likely to be abroad was Holy Cross Day, as poet John Clare, writes
“On Holy Rood [Cross] Day it is faithfully…believed both by old
and young that the Devil goes a –nutting…I have heard many people affirm that
they thought it a tale until they ventured into the woods on that day when they
smelt such a strong smell of brimstone as nearly stifled them before they could
Victorians collecting nuts.
in Warwickshire there is a legend that a particular hill, The Devil’s Nightcap
near Alcester, was formed when the Devil met the Virgin Mary on the road and
dropped his nutting bag in fright!
This blog post is part of an Absolute Write blog hop. To read the other posts in this hop follow the links below: