Dec. 21 is the feast of St. Thomas, the apostle and patron saint of builders and architects. In many parts of Old England, however, it was also the day of St. Thomas’s Dole.
Doleing Day or Mumping Day was when the poor of a community — particularly the old women — would visit the well-to-do in search of handouts. This form of pre-Christmas begging or “mumping” was called “going a gooding.”
Doleing Day was a time of good cheer, and many of the poor were invited into homes for not only gifts of money or grain but also a sip or two of John Barleycorn. In return, they gave their hosts sprigs of evergreens to use as seasonal decorations.
In the spirit of gooding and giving, perhaps Doleing Day would be a good time for us to sit down with our checkbook and pen a few gifts to agencies near and far that could use our help. So many of our thoughts are with family and friends that we may overlook the needy in our midst and in the world.
On Monday, Dec. 21, do good and dole.