Crouchmas (May 3rd)

Some folks think I’m a lying cowboy when I talk about celebrating Crouchmas. It really did exist as a religious Celebration of the Cross for about 15 centuries. “Crouch” is Old English for “cross” hence the name of the celebration.

When the holiday was dropped by the church in 1969 we adopted it as a secular holiday, sending out a few greeting cards and enjoying an Old English dinner. The Jones family down the way thought that was a great idea and had a vision of celebrating Jonesmas…somehow that just didn’t ring true!

This poem expresses the cowboy’s rationale and the economic reality of continuing the celebration out on the ranch…herd management!

It’s said that St. Helena,
in the Fourth Century A.D.,
found remnants of the true cross
and so Crouchmas came to be.

For near fifteen centuries
each and every May the third
Crouchmas was celebrated
and the Latin Mass was heard.

But in nineteen-sixty-nine
that old holiday was dropped,
no longer celebrated,
and the Latin Mass was stopped.

But in Scandinavia
the Crouchmas is still observed,
although as a holiday,
it’s not really been preserved.

It’s when they let the bull in
to bewitch and woo the cow…
it is an age-old custom,
still observed and practiced now.

It’s a way of controlling
that the calving will occur
in the very early Spring
which the cattlemen prefer.

The logic does make good sense…
the holiday’s worth having…
so we celebrate Crouchmas
to manage our herd’s calving.

From the book, Sun, Sand & Soapweed. © 2005