T:St. Thomas's Day
B:Samuel, Ann & Peter Thompson - Compleat Collection of 200
B:Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5 (1788, p. 34)
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ST. THOMAS'S DAY. English, Country Dance Tune (2/4 time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune is unique to London music publishers Samuel, Ann and Peter Thompson's Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 5 (1788), a compendium of their smaller annual country dance issues of the years just prior.
The Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle was established in the twelfth century, and in the Thompson's time it fell on December 21, the day of the winter solstice. Folk customs attached to the saint's day reflected both the occurrence of the solstice and the closeness of Christmas. ‘Thomasing’ was an annual visiting custom known throughout England. On St Thomas’s day poor people visited the houses of better-off neighbors requesting food or provisions to help them through the winter. Also known as ‘gooding’ or ‘mumping’, the earliest reference to the custom is John Stow’s Survey of London
(1560). In many parts of England 'Thomasing' was accompanied by carol singing house to house, and December 21st in England is traditionally the day to begin caroling around towns and villages.