St Mark's Eve

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St Mark's Eve
Significance day before the feast day of St. Mark the Evangelist
Date 24 April
Next time 24 April 2015 (2015-04-24)
Frequency annual
Related to feast of St. Mark

St. Mark's Eve is the day before the feast day of St. Mark the Evangelist. In liturgical Christian churches, this feast of St. Mark is observed on 25 April of each year; thus St. Mark's Eve is 24 April.

English folklore[edit]

On St. Mark's Eve it was the custom in the villages of England, from the 17th century to the late 19th century, to sit in the church porch between the hours of 11.00 p.m. and 1.00 a.m. for three successive years.[1] On the third such sitting, it was said that the ghosts of those to die during the year would be witnessed passing into the church. This practice took place throughout England, but was most prevalent in northern and western counties. Some accounts of the custom state that the watchers must be fasting, or must circle the church before taking up position. The ghosts of those who were to die soon would be the first observed, while those who would almost see out the year would not be witnessed until almost 1.00 a.m. Other variations of the superstition say that the watchers would see headless or rotting corpses, or coffins approaching.

Another, one might say opposite tradition holds that a young woman can see the face of her future husband appear on her smock by holding it before the fire on St Mark's Eve.[2]

In popular literature[edit]

  • A John Keats poem[3]
  • A Maxwell Anderson 1942 play
  • A 1944 motion picture based on the play with several actors of the 1942 production reprising their roles in the film[4] One of the conditions of Anderson selling the film rights to the play was that it not appear before January 1944, after the play had completed its run. 20th Century Fox reshot the ending when test audiences did not like the original ending of the play.[5]
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.[6]

Notes[edit]