As a matter of fact, I’ve discovered that a couple of important dates have gone unremarked on the blog while my thoughts have been elsewhere. One of them is St Cuthbert’s Day - of which more later - and the other is…
...which falls two Sundays before Easter Day.
I can remember my Nana making references to Carlin Sunday and it’s mentioned in a playground rhyme, which I can also just about remember - Tid, Mid, Miseray, Carlin, Palm and Paste-Egg Day. These are shortcut mnemonics to the six Sundays leading to Easter. Tid, Mid and Miseray are named from the beginnings of psalms and hymns traditional in services on that day; the Te Deum, Mi Deus and Misereri mei.
'Carlin', though, has nothing to do with psalms - or even with Christianity. As I’m sure everyone reading this blog knows perfectly well, carlins are small, nutty peas, sometimes called ‘black peas’ or ‘pigeon peas’ and steeping them, boiling them up, drenching them in vinegar and wolfing them down at roughly this time of year is a tradition, specially here in the north-east, that goes back many centuries and may well pre-date the onset of Christianity here.
Interestingly, they play a (perhaps apocryphal) part in local history, too. It’s said that a Dutch shipload of carlins saved Newcastle from starvation when the city was besieged during the Civil War. Which ought to have earned it a place on Newcastle’s coat of arms at the very least, if you ask me.
I doubt very much if anyone observes Carlin Sunday now, though. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten them, on Carlin Sunday or on any other day.
You never know, though…
The other important date I missed while my eye wasn’t on the ball - as Hildie pointed out in the Comments box of the last blog - was...
...which falls on March 20.
I’ve always liked this date as the feast day for our local patron saint. It’s the last day of Winter - the Spring equinox. Whatever the weather, the crocuses and snowdrops are out, daffodils are budding and, from St Cuthbert’s Day onwards, the days are finally longer than the nights. Spring has arrived.
And, rather than being associated with dragons, fire, martyrdom and war, St Cuthbert is commemorated by his local descendants in the affectionate naming of donkeys and ponies (which were known as ‘cuddies’ when I was young) and eider ducks - still referred to as ‘cuddy ducks’ in these parts.
Above is a photo of his lovely tomb in Durham Cathedral - but why isn’t there a statue of him somewhere?
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