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represented as wearing bright green, Robin Hood-like clothes, originated in the May festival. And the name of Maybrough, which, unlike that of its neighbour, the Round Table, is not modern, identifies that structure with the ceremonies of the same time.

On the first of May is still observed in Ireland the custom of going into the fields, and drinking whiskey mixed with milk taken direct from the cow. The mixture is called syllabub, and the kind of Maying to which it belongs, though once more general in England, is in later times only heard of in Northumberland and Cornwall.

The only surviving Maying custom of these counties now is the shaking bottle” carried by children, and so called from the rule laid down by the Newcastle apothecary—“when taken, to be well shaken." The liquor it contains is a solution of Spanish licorice in water, which is supped, or "sucked" from the bottle; and the custom, though kept up for 'weeks, evidently belongs to May, as said in the children's rhyme :

The first of May

Is shaking-bottle day. Spanish and water,” it is said, is good for coughs—a utilitarian explanation of too late a date, which will not account for the syllabub. Both syllabub and Spanish and water appear to be appropriate substitutes for the mead in which the Norsemen drank the minni (memory) of the Gods at their festivities.

Many other customs took refuge with the great May festival, but this did not save them. Amongst the rest, the holy wells, in the last period of their existence, are invariably heard of in May. May geslings, the making of which is identical with that of April fools, are still to be heard of, on the first of May.

from the bridge. Hereupon, after holding a council of war, the fleets moved up under the bridge, laid their cables round the piles, and rowed back with all force. The piles were thus shaken, so that from the weight of men, stones and other weapons, the bridge gave way, and fell into the river. So says Ottar Swarte :

London Bridge is broken down,

Gold is won and bright renown ; etc.
See the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, by Snorro Sturleson.

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The annual ceremony of Rushbearing survives in the villages of Warcop and Ambleside. The custom, it appears, was revived in the last century at Great Musgrave, but did not long continue. St. Peter's day (June 29th), on which the rushbearing takes place at Warcop, is kept as an entire holiday. The garlands are borne in procession by the children to church, where service is said; and at two o'clock commence certain “sports,” consisting of a hound trail, a boy's foot-race, a men's foot-race, pole-leaping, long-leaping, and trotting, which fill up the afternoon. According to the description given of the custom as it was observed at Ambleside, 1856, the garlands to the number of one hundred and ten, made of rushes, ferns, mosses and flowers, were deposited in the church on Saturday, where they remained during divine service next day. On Monday, at four o'clock, the garlands were removed, and carried in procession by the children, for whom refreshments were kindly provided. The origin of the ceremony belongs to the time when rushes were the covering of the floors of houses and churches, and when other carpets were not, the intention being to bless the rushes on the day of the patron saint.

Martindale Cherry Sunday, and Longwathby Plum Sunday are still observed by the assembling of persons from the country around at the places named, on the Sundays when cherries and plums are ripe. There is nothing very mystic in the observances; they consist in eating a considerable quantity of the fruit from which the Sunday receives its name, and in more or less patronage of the publichouses.

The Kurn, or Kurn-winning (see page 87), the Harvest Home of the north, takes the place of the more ancient and solemn returning of thanks at the ingathering of the crops.

All Hallow E'en has no custom pertaining to it. There is recorded in Hutchinson, as a Whitbeck superstition, that on this night the bull lies with his face to the quarter from which the prevailing wind of winter will blow.

The approach of Christmas is not so surely heralded by nipping frosts and showers of snow, as by the song of the children, who go from house to house whistling their shrill notes through pitiless

keyholes. These harbingers of the great festival, who form bands varying from two to a dozen, carry on their operations for about three weeks before Christmas, commencing erery evening at dusk. Many houses nerer refuse the expected donation to the sound of the carol; yet it not unfrequently happens that, after long, sostenuto serenading, the door suddenly opens, and the frightened choir disperse in dismay at the ogre-like look of some old woman, who rushes out as if to devour them.


As I sat anonder yon green tree,

Yon green tree, yon green tree,
As I sat anonder yon green tree,

A Chrisamas Day in the morning,
I met three ships come sailing by,

Come sailing by, etc.
Who do you think was in one of them ?

In one of them, etc.
The Virgin Mary and her son,

And her son, etc.
She washed his face in a silver bowl,

A silver bowl, etc.
She combed his hair with an ivory comb,

An ivory comb, etc.
She sent him up to Heaven to school,

To Heaven to school, etc.

All the angels began to sing,

Began to sing, etc.
The bells of Heaven began to ring,

Began to ring, etc.


This song is still sung at Penrith, having replaced one called Joseph and Mary,” in the early part of the century.

Yet its antiquity is undoubted, and it has probably come hither from Lancashire, where it is well known.* The waits also take part in

* Leap-frog has found its way from Lancashire. In Penrith it is known as Lanky Loups (Lancashire Leaps).


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ushering in Christmas, but are as far from being disinterested as the carolers. They play the tune to which the children sing, namely, an expected gift at the close of the holidays, and on Christmas morning call over the names of the family at whose door they have been attending.

At this period (Christmas), says the author of “ The Manners and Customs of Westmorland in the eighteenth century,” festivity became general, and every table was decorated in succession with a profusion of dishes, including all the pies and puddings then in

Ale-possets also constituted a favourite part of these festive suppers, and were given to strangers for breakfast, before the introduction of tea. They were served up in bowls called doublers, into which the company dipped their spoons promiscuously. The posset-cup* shone as an article of finery in the better sort of houses ; it was of pewter, furnished with two, three or more lateral pipes, through which the liquid part of the compound might be sucked. The aged sat down to cards and conversation for the better part of the night, while the young men amused the company with exhibitions of maskers, or parties of rapier-dancers displayed their dexterity in the sportive use of the small-sword.

The performance of the rapier-dancers is the same with the wellknown sword-dance, which is still remembered in some parts of Cumberland. The ale-posset continues to appear at the village tavern on what is called the Powsowdy night, and consists of ale boiled with bread, and seasoned with sugar and nutmeg. It is served up in basons, and is followed by music, dancing and card-playing.

It is mentioned among Whitbeck superstitions, that the labouring ox kneels at midnight on Christmas Eve, and that the bees sing at the same hour. Notwithstanding, the night is spent by the lower orders in playing cards for "snaps," and the morning is welcomed with the " bottle,” which no family is without. But the mistletoe, the Yulet clog, the Christmas candles, the holly branch, the ivy

The wassail-bowl of the south. See note to page 41. + The Yule was the Midwinter feast, and was not limited to one day. The Cyprian ioulos denoted the month from Dec. 22 to Jan. 23 (Hermann, über griechische Monatskunde, Gött., 1844).


deckings—where are they? Fast following all other customs, they are being distilled in the alembic of Time, and will soon become alcohol, or nothing.

St. Stephen's Day is kept as a general shooting holiday; the woods and fields echo all day with the desultory practice of

sportsmen," and the pigeon-shootings held for prizes. The wren-hunting of the Isle of Man and Ireland no doubt had the same origin as our Christmas shooting.*

New Year's Day was celebrated very pompously in ancient times ; but, as in most Christian countries, the customis pertaining thereto have long since gone over to Christmas. At Muncaster, on the eve of this day, it was formerly customary for the children to sing from house to house, and crave the bounty they

were wont to have in old King Edward's days,” the expected gift being a pie or twopence. Shorn of its rites, the New Year is now simply welcomed with midnight bell-ringing, and by the “ Ranters" with singing and music out of doors. Borrowing is not “ lucky” on that day, and no person should allow a light to be taken from his fire on any pretence. The first visitor of the year is believed to influence the luck of the ensuing twelve months. But fate is most generally forestalled on this occasion, and some lucky person, usually a child, is engaged to be the “first foot” of the year. The origin of this superstition is obvious. It has long since been discovered how much we are under the influence of those around us, and the “first foot" is but the expression of this truth. Many people believe the first twelve days of January to be typical of the weather for the ensuing year.

Twelfth Night was formerly celebrated at Brough-under-Stain

• The wren-bunting of the Isle of Man is explained by a tradition, that in former times a fairy of uncommon beauty one by one seduced away the male population, and led them into the sea. At length a knight-errant sprung up, who laid a plot for the destruction of the fairy, which she only escaped by taking the form of a wren, with this condition, that she should, on the anniversary of that day, re-animate the same form year after year, and ultimately perish by a human hand. Formerly on Dec. 24, but now on St. Stephen's Day, the whole population of the island turn out in the hope of killing the fairy.- (History of the Isle of Man, by H. A. Bullock.)

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