When: 11th January 2014 from 4pm until 10am on 12th January 2014
Where: Queen’s College, Oxford
£: The event is by invitation only, however members of the public can usually arrange access to Queen’s College by contacting the local Tourist Information Office.
What is it?
The Needle and Thread Gaudy is a long running tradition at Queen’s College and was formerly held on New Year’s Day. A gaudy is a celebratory festival or feast held at some schools and colleges in Britain and comes from the Latin to rejoice. Queen’s College traditionally holds two such events each year.
At the Needle and Thread Gaudy the Bursar exhorts those present to be thrifty. Traditionally the fellows would be given a needle and some coloured thread to mend their academic hoods with. As the Bursar handed them out, he would say ‘take this and be thrifty’. These days Old Members are also invited every year to join in with this Gaudy ceremony.
The origins of this needle and thread custom come from the name of the college founder, Robert de Eglesfield. In French needle is aiguille and thread is fil; aiguillefil is a play on the name Eglesfield, which was meant to be a college joke.
The other such annual event at the college is the Boar’s Head Gaudy, a feast which takes place on the Saturday before Christmas. The feast is preceded by the ceremonial entry of a Boar’s Head and the singing of the traditional Boar’s Head Carol.