5 Mediaeval Customs You Didn’t Know Existed

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The Middle Ages was a curious time to be alive, and it’s no surprise that people back then followed a number of unusual traditions. To celebrate everything weird and wonderful about this era, we’re exploring 5 mediaeval customs that you probably didn’t know existed. From the extremely clean to the bizarre wedding traditions, here’s what we discovered.

Humble pie

Turkey wasn’t introduced to the UK until after the 15th century, so when it came to Christmas wealthier families often chose to eat goose and venison. If they were feeling generous, they’d donate offal, which was then called umble, to poorer families. Used to make pies, people referred to these donations as ‘umble pies’, and that’s where the ‘eat humble pie’ idiom we know originated.

Midsummer celebrations

Religion and traditions played a huge part in mediaeval history, and many people came together to celebrate Midsummer’s Eve, otherwise known as the pagan festival, Summer Solstice. And as part of the celebrations, people would set fire to wooden barrels and throw them down nearby hills. Weird, but true.

Confetti with a difference

Forget about colourful, floral pieces of rice paper floating up into the air, back then many people would celebrate by throwing pieces of wheat over the heads of newly married couples. Fortunately, at our Coombe Abbey mediaeval-themed weddings, you don’t have to worry about flying wheat – unless you request it that is!

Keeping it clean

Hygiene was incredibly important during the mediaeval era, with many believing that cleanliness reflected how civilised you were – it was even said to cure you of certain ailments. To stay clean, people would go to public baths or invest in their own wooden barrel hot tub.

Mind your Ps and Qs

When it came to banquets, manners played a big part throughout the mediaeval era. Scratching your head, chewing too loudly and even proclaiming your appreciation of the food were all frowned upon. Thankfully, if you join us for one of our many mediaeval banquets you won’t have to worry about anything like that. Now, where’s the mead?

Fancy experiencing a taste of mediaeval life?

Book your stay and join us here at Coombe Abbey for one of our many mediaeval-themed nights, where you can dress up in your best attire, and spend the evening drinking goblets of wine, dancing to traditional music, and hanging out with knights!


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