August 24th is Bartlemas, the Feast of St. Bartholomew, a fascinating character who, among other things, is the patron saint of leather workers, tanners, shoemakers, and bookbinders.
When Bartholomew converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity, Polymius’s brother Astyages ordered the missionary’s execution: tradition has it he was flayed alive, and then crucified.
Why is Bartholomew the patron of bookbinders? It’s difficult to find an authoritative source. But considering that he is often portrayed holding a tanner’s knife and a length of his own skin, the connection to leather binding is not much of a leap.
In celebration of this day, the master printer and bookbinder threw a party (wayzgoose) for their workers, marking the day we move from working in daylight to working by candlelight.
–post by Madeleine Robins