The Holidays Celebrated In Colonial America

St. James' Day

{ The 25th of July }

  James, the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of John the Apostle, was one of the first disciples to join Jesus the Christ; and was one of the three to whom Jesus appeared in the Transfiguration.

  James was martyred on 25 July in the year 44, becoming the first Christian martyr.

  James was claimed to have travelled to Spain, where he preached the gospel, and then upon his return to Palestine, James was made the first bishop of Jerusalem. In the year 44 James was preaching at the temple, was attacked by Jews and thrown over the battlements of the city. Some Spanish Christians who had followed James back to Palestine gathered up his body and conveyed it back to Spain, enshrining the bones in the cathedral at Compostella, in Galicia.

  St. James was associated with scallop shells. A tradition arose that as his relics were being transported to Spain, a horse being ridden by a Portuguese knight suddenly plunged into the sea, taking its rider along. The rider and horse were rescued and pulled aboard the ship, and the knight was found to be covered in scallop shells. It as the belief that the Saint had caused this to occur, and therefore he was associated with scallop shells thereafter.

  A tradition associated with St. James Day that has come down through the years states that anyone who ate oysters on St. James' Day would not want for money for the rest of the year.

  There was also a tradition that arose in France in which baskets of apples would be taken to the local church on St. James' Day. After being blessed by the priest, the apples would be distributed and eaten by the parishioners in celebration of the harvest.