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// September 2006 archive

// 09.29.06

The St Crispin's Day Speech


Every year I put together this shoe party someone always brings up the The St. Crispin's Day Speech. I think just as much as shoes are telling of a person's personality so is their reaction to the concept of a St. Crispin's Day celebration.

There are two types of people: the first have no clue who St. Crispin is and I spend most of my time talking about the Saints themselves and how they relate to shoes. The second group of people think I am referring to Shakespeare and they starting talking about the speech. Strangely enough, they don't really know about St. Crispin either, so here I have to go over the whole St. Crispin thing again.

Well since I already discussed the whole shoe thing, I thought I would excerpt Wikipedia's entry on the speech and round out our whole understanding.

St. Crispin and Crispinian are perhaps best known for lending his name to the famous speech given by the eponymous king in Shakespeare's Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt (which occurred 25 October 1415, though the speech was not written until 1599). In the speech, Crispinian's name is spelled Crispian, perhaps reflecting London pronunciation in Shakespeare's time.

The full text of the speech is:

KING. This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian":
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. (IV, iii)

// 09.26.06

Shoes: Culture and History

vivienne westwood

How apropos, National Geographic September's edition has a feature article on the world of shoes. As writer Cathy Newman says in the intro to her story: "Every shoe tells a story. Shoes speak of status, gender (usually), ethnicity, religion, profession, and politics (the Russian writer Maxim Gorky said a strong pair of boots "will be of greater service for the ultimate triumph of socialism than . . . black eyes"). Last, far from least, they can be drop-dead gorgeous." Too bad they missed the opportunity to make the connection with St. Crispin's Day next month.

Check out the full story entitled: Every Shoe Tells a Story

// 09.21.06

St. Crispin Day

st crispin

Shoemaking has a long history and one that is rich in tradition. Within the trade itself – among shoe and bootmakers – the legends, the traditions, and the history really begin with St. Crispin. St. Crispin is the patron saint of shoemakers. Since medieval times, October 25th has been celebrated as St. Crispin's Day and the Shoemaker's Holiday. In the past, boot and shoemakers traditionally closed their shops on this day, in celebration and commemoration.

Who is (are) St. Crispin?

Crispin and Crispinian were once the Catholic patron saints of cobblers, tanners, and leather workers. Born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd Century AD, Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twin brothers, fled persecution for their faith, winding up in Soissons, where they preached Christianity to the Gauls and made shoes by night. Their success attracted the ire of Rictus Varus, the governor of Belgic Gaul, who had them tortured and beheaded c. 286. In the 6th Century, a church was built in their honor at Soissons.

The feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian is October 25. However, these saints were removed from the liturgical calendar (but not declared to no longer be saints) during the Catholic Church's Vatican II reforms.

The reasoning used by Vatican II for this decision was that there was insufficient evidence that Saints Crispin and Crispinian actually existed. Indeed, their role as shoemakers, their relationship as twins, and the timing of their holiday are suggestive of the possibility that they could have represented a local Celtic deity (Lugus-Mercurius) which had been made into a saint as a result of syncretism.


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