The Holidays Celebrated In Colonial America

St. Clement's Day

{ The 23rd of November }

  St. Clements Day was a day celebrated for the feast of St. Clement, from the ancient custom of going about that night to beg drink to make merry with according to Dr. Robert Plott in his History Of Staffordshire, published in 1686.

  It was the custom of apprentices to gather together when they had free time. On St. Clements Day they would choose one among them to serve as "Old Clem". He would be dressed in a great coat, his head covered in an oakum wig, and his face covered in a mask from which a long white beard flowed.

  Old Clem would be seated on a large wooden chair which was carried about on the shoulders of his mates. In his hands he would hold a pair of tongs and a hammer in mimic of a blacksmith. Six other men would lift up the chair holding Old Clem, and proceed to move through the streets of the town. Others in the procession would carry lit torches, banners, and instruments of war.

  The rabble of young men would stop at every tavern or public house they passed, begging free drinks and they would harrass any persons who happened out onto the same streets for donations of money. When an adequate sum had been collected, the procession would make its way to another public house, where the money would be spent on supper and as much liquor as could be bought.