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Catholic Activity: A-Thomasing


  • Meat pie or Paté de Noel (see recipe)

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Although St. Thomas the Apostle's feast day has moved from December 21 to July 3 in the revision of the General Roman Calendar of 1969, December 21 still marks many customs in Europe, particularly the baking and cleaning for Christmas. The tradition of the meat pie is explained here.


The twenty-first of December, feast of St. Thomas, is celebrated by charity to the poor and by the baking of pies. In Gloucestershire, England, the poor went "a-Thomasing" for gifts; in the Tyrol, it is pie day.

A great meat pie is baked for the whole family. It is marked with the Cross and sprinkled with holy water. Along with the great pie in the hot oven are smaller pies — one for each maid-servant in the house. When the crusts are golden brown, the pies are cooled and frozen. This is very easy to do in the bitter Tyrolean winters. Each maid takes her pie home to her family. On the feast of the Epiphany, the pies are thawed, reheated and eaten. The father of the house makes quite a ceremony of cutting the Christmas pie which is baked in a rectangular pan to resemble the manger.
French Canada has continued this custom with the familiar "Tourquière." Noël and "le Jour de l'An" would never be the same without those wonderful meat pies.

Activity Source: True Christmas Spirit by Rev. Edward J. Sutfin, Grail Publications, St. Meinrad, Indiana, 1955