Christmas in England: Lesser-Known Days and Customs
In pre-industrial England, numerous minor days of observance studded the Christmas season calendar. These included Stir-Up Sunday, St. Thomas’s Day, St. Stephen’s Day, Holy Innocents’ Day, St. Distaff’s Day, Twelfth Night, and Plough Monday. More important holidays, like Epiphany and Candlemas, were also celebrated. What’s more, after 1752, when England adopted the Gregorian calendar reform, some people continued to honor the previous date for Christmas, giving rise to the observance of Old Christmas Day. Most of these minor holy days and holidays faded away during the nineteenth century, as the English calendar was reorganized around the industrial work week.
Though many of the customs associated with these days have faded as well, some weathered the transition. For instance, the town of Glastonbury still awaits the blooming of the Glastonbury thorn on or near Old Christmas Day.