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.