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Happy St. Bartholomew Day!


Tomorrow is the day the church celebrates Bartholomew, a disciple of Jesus.


Bartholomew was one of the twelve disciples called by Jesus. Bartholomew traveled everywhere with Jesus and he continued on with the other disciples after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He traveled throughout India, preaching the gospel. He ended up spreading the gospel in Armenia where he was martyred. Legend has it that Bartholomew was flayed alive before his death which is why you often see him depicted without skin or holding his skin as in The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.



Ways to celebrate St. Bartholomew’s Day:


Make gingerbread. During the middle ages in England, gingerbread was often the special cake served on feast days. The saint's image was usually stamped on the cake. Gingerbread, with the image of Bartholomew, was served at Bartholomew Fairs that were held across the land.


Have a race and eat a currant bun. In Sandwich, Kent, England, they hold a St Bartholomew's Bun Race. Children race around the chapel of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Everyone who participates receives a currant bun.


Make Bartlemas Beef. Bartholomew is the patron saint of butcher’s since he was skinned alive. Yikes!


The beef served on this day is traditionally called Bartlemas Beef (“Bartlemas” means the mass of St. Bartholomew). The following recipe is given in “Cook’s Guide” from 1664.


Bartlemas Beef.


Take a fat Brisket piece of beef and bone it, put it into so much water as will cover it, shifting it three times a day for three dayes together, then put it into as much white wine and vinegar as will cover it,and when it hath lyen twenty-four hours take it out and drye it in a cloth, then take nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and mace, of each a like quantity, beaten small and mingled with a good handful of salt, strew both sides of the Beef with this, and roul it up as you do Brawn, tye it as close as you can; then put it into an earthen pot, and cover it with some paste; set it in the Oven with household bread, and when it is cold, eat it with mustard and sugar.

Let me know if you make this, especially what you use as “some paste”!



Eat watermelon or make lanterns out of watermelon. In Italy and Spain it was traditional to eat watermelon. Watermelon was at the height of its season during this time. A watermelon festival was thrown on St. Bartholomew’s Day and everyone gathered to enjoy the fruit. On the Spanish island of Majorca, children made lanterns out of watermelons and paraded through the village.


We are making Gingerbread Cake from one of my favorite seasonal cookbooks, Honey and Jam.




2 Comments


Stephany Riley
Stephany Riley
Aug 25, 2023

There was actually only one Bartholomew Fayre. It was first chartered by King Henry I and lasted for two weeks through the 1600s every year until it was shortened to four days. It was shutdown in 1855 because of "debauchery" and getting too rowdy. Re Paste:. From the Middle Ages through the period of time when Hannah Woolley wrote A Cooks Guide, paste simply meant dough. People used the term for dough to make pastry, dough to make pasta, and even doughs to make medicinal pills. So the Bartlemas Beef is a little like Beef Wellington. I am interested in where you read about the gingerbread? I've been looking in several primary source databases including Early English Books Online …

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Hey Stephany! Here is a resource I used for the gingerbread - http://www.larsdatter.com/18c/gingerbread.html


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