One of the joys of writing on traditions and folklore is you often come across something you’ve never heard of before.
King Frost Day, London
My curiosity was piqued when I came across a diary which noted the 4th February was ‘King Frost Day’, unfortunately that was all it said and I had not got a clue what ‘King Frost Day’ was - but it sounded interesting and I had to find out.
It seems that this chilly celebration comes from London and dates back to the 15th century. At that time the Thames used to freeze during the winter, partly because the river was wider and slower running and partly because the weather was colder. On the 4th February, when the river was usually suitably solid, people would hold a fair on the Thames complete with a carnival and races to celebrate King Frost. The character of King Frost seems to have been lost in time but he may have been a version of Jack Frost, Jack Frost’s father or even a remembrance of some ancient trickster spirit. The last frost fair held in London on the Thames was in 1814 and with the change in climate and the topography of the river this is one tradition that is unlikely to come back in its original form.