The Holidays Celebrated In Colonial America

St. Peter's Day

{ The 29th of June }

  During the eve of St. Peter's Day, bonfires would be lit on hilltops. Celebrants would light torches in those fires and run with them upon the hilltops.


  The original purpose of lighting bonfires on this evening was to honor the Celtic god Bel variously, Baal. As with the first of May celebration, the lighting of bonfires on the eve of the 29th of June was known, in the Gaelic tongue as Beltan.

  One of the customs celebrated on the eve of St. Peter's Day was for celebrants of one village to travel to a neighboring village and attempt to carry off (by force if necessary) some of the ashes from the bonfire of that neighboring town. The action was known as "carrying off the flour of the wake".

  The Account of the Lordship of Gisborough in Cleveland, Yorkshire, and the adjoining coast noted that, in regard to the fishermen of that region "invite their friends and kinsfolk to a festyvall kept after their fashion with a free hearte and noe shew of niggardnesse: that daye their boates are dressed curiously for the shewe, their mastes are painted, and certain rytes observed amongst them, with sprinkling their prowes with good liquor, sold with them at a groate the quarte, which custome or superstition suckt from their auncestors, even contynueth down unto this present tyme." The fishermen of New England no doubt celebrated this day in the same manner.