Nutting Day

By William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Nut Gatherers

14 September

There are various customs which converge on 14 September, most notably Holy Cross Day, which, along with Whitsun and Saint Lucy’s Day, marks the coming of another Ember Day, where fasting would take place. Holy Cross Day was a Christianisation of an older British custom, which also appears throughout parts of Europe, known as Nutting Day.

The night before Nutting Day was known as the Night of the Holy Nut, where nuts would ripen and be ready to gather. Nutting Day, then, was a day of foraging to collect the best nuts from woodland. It was also the first day from which the sun would set early enough for a candle to be required for lacemakers, who would commonly bathe their eyes using gin to keep themselves awake and sharp during their long shifts.

This day, they say, is called Holy-rood Day,
And all the you are now a-nutting gone.

Grim the Collier of Croydon

It was commonplace for young couples to forage together, and so Nutting Day often inadvertently marked the beginnings of marriage arrangements as the unmarried would regularly fall pregnant after spending time alone together in the woods.

Though it is mainly unknown in the cultural calendar, Nutting Day is still recognised by certain pagan groups, and some Wiccan practices include the acknowledgement of Nutting Day. Tradition holds that from Nutting Day the best nuts can be gathered, until Devil’s Nutting Day falls on 21 September, when the Devil comes to take his share.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Nut Gatherers
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Nut Gatherers, Public Domain
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