Pinch, punch, first of the month

Sunday 1 December 2013

Pinch, punch, first of the month - and no returns!

Yes, it's 1 December and day one of The Chrismologist's Advent calendar.

December was the tenth month of the Roman calendar (decem meaning ten). The Anglo-Saxons referred to it as both Winter Monath and Yule Monath, but after many of them were converted to Christianity it became known as Heligh Monath or 'holy month'.

1 December itself, is the feast day of Saint Eligius, the patron saint of goldsmiths and other metalworkers (including blacksmiths), who died on this day AD 660.

The following legends are often linked to Saint Dunstan, another smithying saint, but have also been applied to Saint Eligius.

The Saint, formerly a blacksmith was working at his forge when the Devil paid him a visit, disguised as a beautiful woman, with a view to leading him astray. However the Saint spotted the cloven hooves beneath the dress, and grabbed the devil's nose with his red hot pincers! Thus foiling Satan's evil intentions.

According to another legend, Satan returned again as a weary traveller in need of a horseshoe. The Saint saw through the disguise once again and beat the Devil until he pleaded for mercy, and swore never to enter any house with a horseshoe above the door.

So now you know.


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