Advent Calendar Day 23: Tom Bowcock’s Eve by Rosie Reast

Number 23

Tom Bowcock’s Eve by Rosie Reast

Many years ago the small fishing village of Mousehole in Cornwall was starving. Constant winter storms made it impossible for the fishermen to go out and catch the fish the village depended on.

One winter morning just before Christmas, Tom Bowcock an experienced fisherman, decided to brave the storms to bring back food or die trying. He left in the early morning and battled the wind and the waves time and again until finally he found a shoal of fish. By the time he’d filled the small boat the darkness was falling and he turned the small boat back towards home Tom knew he wouldn’t be able to find safe passage through the rocks back to the safety of the harbour.

Despite knowing he’d die in the attempt to reach home, Tom carried on he was the only hope for the village. Then the miracle happened.
The walls of the harbour were lit up, the villagers had discovered Tom was missing and carried their lanterns to the harbour wall, lighting his way home through the night.

Tom arrived home safely and the village was saved, just two days before Christmas. For Christmas that year the people of Mousehole ate Stargazy pie, a type of fish pie with the heads sticking up through the pastry, as if looking at the stars.

Nowadays Mousehole is famous for its display of Christmas lights, and celebrate Tom’s heroic catch every year on 23rd December, known locally as Tom Bowcock’s Eve with Stargazey pie and starlit carols.

For me Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas, without a festive trip to the village to look at the lights covering the village shining through the winter darkness. Followed of course by a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie.