How is St Edmund’s Day being marked this year?
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The day Bury St Edmunds commemorates its namesake, the original Patron Saint of England, happens to fall during the second national lockdown.
Saint Edmund’s Day on November 20 is a chance for businesses and residents to show their support for the saint, as well as raising his profile and that of the town.
According to the legend, after Edmund was killed by Danish invaders on November 20, 869, a wolf guarded his severed head until it could be reunited with his body.
In light of the current coronavirus restrictions, how will the feast day of St Edmund - the patron saint of pandemics - be marked this year?
MORE: Comic novel is inspired by Saint EdmundAs a consequence of the Christmas lights switch-on event being cancelled, the first day the lights will be illuminated will be St Edmund’s Day as a joint celebration of Christmas and the saint.
Businesses are being encouraged to ‘fly the flag’ for St Edmund by displaying bunting and flags bearing the crown and arrows motif of the county’s own saint, who ruled East Anglia from AD 855 to 869.
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Mark Cordell, chief executive of the town’s BID, which organises the lights switch-on event, said in a year of “very little to celebrate it would be good if we could put on a bit of a visual performance by demonstrating our support for St Edmund and our town!”
He said: “Obviously it will be less of an event than it might have been with so many of the businesses closed. We still want to celebrate the town’s namesake.”
MORE: Did you fly the flag for St Edmund?The BID has previously provided many businesses with St Edmund bunting and flags and they are asked to display them during the whole of the week starting November 16, either outside or in the window.
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If businesses need flags or bunting get in contact with the BID. They will be given on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
Traditionally, special ales are brewed in recognition of the saint, but this year Moriarty’s in Whiting Street is launching a St Edmund’s Day cocktail for take-out. Details are being finalised.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral is also helping people mark the occasion by organising a LEGO competition to build a model of St Edmund.
It is split into three age categories - four to seven, seven to 11 and 12 and over (including adults) - and any number of bricks can be used.
Once completed, entrants are requested to complete an entry form and send this with up to three photos of their model to firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for entries is 5pm on Thursday, November 19, and the winner will be announced on St Edmund’s Day.
Sarah Friswell, cathedral PR, visits and volunteer manager, said: “We really want to encourage people to celebrate St Edmund’s Day in whatever ways we can this year. We hope that the competition gives a chance to be creative and have some fun and to think about St Edmund and his importance to this town and county.”
The prize for the overall winner is a LEGO model kit of St Edmund’s wolf. There will be an individual prize in each age category too. For more information and the entry form see here.
The cathedral is in the middle of a project to build a model of the cathedral from LEGO bricks. To date 82,000 bricks have been added thanks to visitors donating £1 per brick.
Model building has had to halt during the pandemic but entrants to the competition are encouraged to make a donation, which will be turned into bricks to help the cathedral model grow, even in lockdown.
Mayor of Bury St Edmunds Peter Thompson said it was “disappointing” that an event to mark St Edmund’s Day at the Guildhall - where the town council offices are - cannot go ahead.
“Traditionally St Edmund’s Day is quite a low key event,” he said. “You see the fuss made about St Patrick’s Day. In future years I would like to see St Edmund’s Day celebrated like St Patrick’s Day.”