Five Ways to Show Your Medievalist Friend You Care

Posted by Blair Thornburgh

March 31st is Hug A Medievalist Day, the most important holiday of the year if you chose to devote your course of study to Chaucer, Charlemagne, or Camelot. As Quirk’s resident medievalist, I am DELIGHTED to provide you with some additional ways to celebrate that special Middle Ages expert in your life (especially if they’re not too keen on the hugging thing). Let us sally forth!


Greet them in a dead language.

When you see your medievalist buddy, give them a hearty “Wæs þu hæl” (Old English for “be you healthy!”) or a reverent, church-y “Salve” in Latin. If you’re feeling like a real jokester, you can ask them hwæssup, although that is not really a word.


Share a Bayeux tapestry meme with them.

The Bayeux Tapestry—aka the World’s Oldest Comic Strip—is an embroidery (not actually a tapestry but whatev) depicting the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror’s eponymous conquest of Anglo-Saxon English. The world would never be the same! We’d start calling it “pork” when it’s on a plate but “pig” when it’s out in the mud! There are only two women depicted on the whole thing and that kind of sucks!*

But you probably know the tapestry from its presence on the internet as Ye Olde Meme fodder. Dig up one of your favorites and send it your medievalist’s way!

*The identity of one of the women, Aelfgyva, is SHROUDED IN MYSTERY to this day. We don’t know who she is or why there’s a weird naked guy squatting underneath her.


Make them a medieval cake.

This 15th-century recipe for “frutowr for Lentyn” sounds at least edible!

Recipe: flour & almondes mylk, & temper þam togyder; þan take fyges & rasyns of corance & fry þam with þe batour with oyle & tyrne þis & serof.

Translation: flour & almond milk, & temper them together; then take figs & raisins of Corinth & fry them with the batter with oil & turn this & serve.


Even more modern translation:

• 1 cup almond milk

• 3/4 cup flour

• 2 Tbs. olive oil

• 1 cup sliced figs & currants


Mix the almond milk quickly with the flour into a pancake-like batter; do not overbeat. Adjust the batter as needed: if too thick, dilute with a little almond milk; if too thin, thicken with a little flour.

Heat the oil in a skillet; when hot, pour in 1/2 of the batter. Sprinkle the fruit over top, then cover with the remaining batter. Cook until brown underneath, then turn over to brown the opposite side. Serve whole or sliced.

OPTIONAL: garnish with honey or sugar.

If making more than one fritter, keep them warm before serving on the rack of a 250° F oven.

That’s probably actually not that bad! Check out A Boke of Gode Cookery Recipes for more.


Sing them a charming medieval song.

It’s a little early for “Sumer is Icumen In,” but go for it anyway! Here’s some helpful sheet music:


Okay, fine, here’s some EASY sheet music, you quitter:


Say “I love Old English! Shakespeare’s stuff is so good” followed by a loud “PSYCH!”

Because Shakespeare wrote in Modern English, you see. This is a very good joke. Trust me, a medievalist will appreciate that you know the difference.

Blair Thornburgh

Blair Thornburgh

BLAIR THORNBURGH is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in medieval studies and delivered a pretty good commencement speech. She lives in Philadelphia.