In the dead of winter it is really important to find anything that gets you out and about and warms the heart a little. I had never been to Mousehole on Tom Bawcock’s eve so wasn’t really sure what to expect.
The celebration takes place each year on the 23rd December. The legend goes that a local fisherman, Tom Bawcock, singlehandedly saved the people of Mousehole from starvation. In the 16th century the little harbour was extremely poor. Endless winter storms meant the fishing boats had been unable to catch anything and the villagers struggling to feed themselves.
Tom Bawcock decided to brave the wild seas and took out his little fishing boat. Despite the stormy weather he managed to return to Mousehole with a catch and there was enough fish to feed the entire village. Some of the catch (including seven types of fish) was then baked into a pie. The fish heads were left poking through the pastry just to prove that there was fish inside – the first Stargazey Pie!
Today Tom Bawcock is remembered with a lantern parade, singing and of course a large fishy pie!
Many think that this legend may not be about a real person, that Tom Bawcock didn’t really exist. That his story is a fable, meant to remind us of those who are selfless and willing to give all they have to help others. It perhaps inspires each of us to step up, do more, to be brave and face all the storms that lie ahead. And that I think is the perfect thought to carry in to the new year.