An annual custom which was found all over England on 21 December (St Thomas's Day) whereby the poor people of a village visited the houses of their better-off neighbours requesting food and/or provisions to help them through the winter. What was given varied considerably from place to place, but was usually governed by local rules and sanctioned by long custom - a measure of wheat, a stone of flour, a candle, some coal, and so on. Unusually for a *visiting custom, nothing was offered in exchange by the callers in most areas, although there are occasional mentions of a rhyme being recited or a piece of mistletoe or holly being given. Under the name 'Gooding', the earliest reference to the custom is in John Stow's Survey of London (1560), and it was a regular feature of rural life until it gradually declined through the 19th century as different ways of helping the poor were found, and the well-off turned against 'begging'. In some parishes, the custom was institutionalized into a regular dole organized by parson and squire. Thomasing lasted in a few districts into Edwardian times. Also called Mumping, Corning, and Doleing. Wright and Lones, 1940: iii. 200-7; Brand, 1849: i. 455-7.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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