Friday, October 03, 2008

First Thursday, Friday and Saturday in October, Nottingham Goose Fair, Nottingham, UK

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
This Michaelmas fair held in Nottingham, England on the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday in October has been celebrated since 1284 when the Charter of King Edward I (June, 1239 - July 7, 1307) makes the first recorded reference to a fair on the Feast of St Matthew the Apostle (September 21) as already being established in Nottingham. Other Goose Fairs and Mop Fairs (because servants are being hired) take place in other towns throughout the early weeks of October. In some places, Runaway Fairs were held the following week for those servants who disliked their new situations.

An old story said the name Goose Fair came about after an angler caught a pike in the River Trent. 'Perched high in the air a wild goose aspied the fish, secured it and carried it off with rod, line and angler attached.' After the goose dropped the angler, uninjured, in the Market Place, the old story goes that a holiday and the Fair was set up to celebrate.

More than 20,000 geese from the Lincolnshire Fens would be sold to provide the traditional Michaelmas dish. The fens are 400 square miles of low-lying salt and fresh water marshes, quicksands, rivers and bogs. The Romans were the first to recognize the fertility of the soils and the quality grazing on the fenlands, so constructed a drainage system from Peterborough to Lincoln to stop upland water from flooding into the fens each winter. After the Roman occupation ended, over centuries the fens fell back to wilderness, and when the Viking raiders came during the 8th and 9th Centuries, the fens became a refuge for the Anglo-Saxons of Lincolnshire.

The Viking Danes had a settlement in Nottingham and it might be that they established a market on the Fens, and this market might have become a fair. When the calendar was revised in 1752, omitting 11 days from September, the date of Goose Fair was switched to October 2 and this remained the starting date until 1875 ...

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