Glastonbury Thorn

17th century engraving of Glastonbury by Wenceslas Hollar; Wenceslas Hollar Digital Collection, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.
17th century engraving of Glastonbury by Wenceslas Hollar; Wenceslas Hollar Digital Collection, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

THE CHRISTMAS THORN.– A friend of mine met a girl on Old Christmas Day, in a village of North Somerset who told him that she was going to see the Christmas Thorn in blossom. He accompanied her to an orchard; where he found a tree, propagated from the celebrated Glastonbury Thorn, and gathered from it several sprigs in blossom. Afterwards the girl’s mother informed him, that it had been formerly the custom for the youth of both sexes to assemble under the tree at midnight, on Christmas Eve, in order to hear the bursting of the buds into flower; and she added: “As they comed out, you could hear ‘um haffer.”

Jennings, and after him Halliwell, give this word haffer for to “crackle, to patter, to make repeated loud noises.” C.W. BINGHAM.

— Notes and Queries, 3rd S. IX. Jan. 6, ’66.

Glastonbury.– A vast concourse of people attended the noted thorn on Christmas-day, new style; but, to their great disappointment, there was no appearance of its blowing, which made them watch it narrowly the 5th of January, the Christmas-day, old style, when it blowed as usual.

— Gentleman’s Magazine, January 1753.

Published by Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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