From now until Christmas Eve were known as the Rough Nights, when demons and evil spirits were banished from homes and farms. In some places the banishing was done by making loud noises, cracking whips, banging on pots and pans and shouting. In other places incense and holy water was carried around the home, yard and stock sheds, the holy water sprinkled everywhere, the incense wafted into every nook and cranny.
In Germany it was the tradition to make a special fruited loaf today, but in the middle of the kneading process, the baker should run out to their orchard and embrace every fruit tree.This would ensure that there would be an abundant crop the next year.
St Thomas is sometimes called 'the Brewer' as all the beer brewing for the christmas celebrations should be completed by now and in Norway it was the custom to visit friends and neighbours to sample the results.
In many parts of Europe there would be a school holiday today, very often ensured by the students 'barring' the teachers from the school. There are records of boys in the 19th century using pop guns to fend off their teachers.
In Bohemia there is a tradition that St Thomas flies across the sky at midnight in a fiery chariot, and lands in the local churchyard where he calls all souls named after him to rise from their graves. He then blesses the souls of the dead and they return to their graves. This is an obvious Pagan tradition which has had the christian saint inserted to substitute for the God, who would have originally called the dead from their graves to join him in his wild ride across the Winter sky.
There are traditional spells associated with St Thomas' night. These are usually divination to help reveal who your future spouse will be.
Climb on to a step, then into bed. Now remove your shoes and throw them at the door, some say you should have your back to the door and throw them over your shoulder. If they fall and lie with the points towards the door it means you will marry in the coming year.
Sleep with your head at the foot end of the bed and with an onion wrapped in a handkerchief beneath your pillow to gain a dream of your future spouse.
A more detailed spell says that you should take a little yellow apple and stick two long pins through it, so that they cross through its heart. Wrap the apple in your left stocking and put this bundle under your pillow. Then say the following spell out loud:
St Thomas, St. Thomas, the shortest and least,
Show me who my spouse is, this night as I sleep.
Show me where he lives, his work or his wares,
And know I will love him if ugly or fair.
St. Thomas I ask that you help me in this
And we'll seal our love bargain with a sweet, loving, kiss.
Then get into bed and say nothing more - and your dreams will be ominous!
You can also pray to St Thomas tonight to help you stop oversleeping and getting up late. Possibly because when the days are at their shortest, you want to make sure you make the most of whatever daylight there is.