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The feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian is October 25. These saints are somewhat unimpressive, as saints go, and indeed, their feast day was officially removed from the Roman Catholic Church's universal liturgical calendar in the 1960s.

Crispin and Crispinian were born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century AD -- by some accounts they were twins -- and fled persecution to convert Gauls in Soissons, France. But they were not content to preach, and by night also made shoes for the poor, using leather that was delivered to them by angels. They attracted the attention of the Roman governor of Belgic Gaul, Rictus Varus, who had them arrested, tortured, and thrown into the river with millstones around their necks. They survived this, but the will of God was not strong enough to prevent them from being beheaded (c. AD 285-286, although accounts vary).

They are the patron saints of cobblers, and because everyone needs a patron saint, they also take care of the glove makers, lace makers and tatters, tanners, and weavers.

Which sounds a bit boring... but it isn't boring for the shoemakers. St. Crispin's day (St. Crispinian is oft forgotten) was a serious holiday for the shoemakers of England; accounts from 1816 report that the shoemakers would take the day off for 'feasting and jollity', although in 1900 Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer reported with perhaps a mild sense of disappointment that the corporate body of cordwainers and shoemakers of London celebrated, but without any sort of procession for the occasion.

He further reported that at that time the shoemakers of Northumberland would gather at a tavern to elect a king, queen, prince, and princess, after which the unelected cobblers would put on a proper procession, parading through the streets with banners and music, with the royal party 'gaily dressed in character'. In the evening there would be dancing and other festivities.

Meanwhile, in Sussex they held a proper bonfire night, with children begging for coins, and bonfires lit. In Wales, he reported, a proper effigy was constructed, hung on St. Crispin's Eve, and cut down the next morning to be paraded through the streets. It was stripped, the clothes being given to local cobblers, and the remnants kicked and beaten; in 'revenge', the cobblers would be in charge of constructing and abusing an effigy of a carpenter on St. Clement's Day.

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