British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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20                                  EVE OF THE EPIPHANY.                        [JAN. 5.
utmost contentment, after which the guests went about seeing their friends for the remainder of the day. It was also the day on which any disposed for change gave up their places, and when new servants were engaged. Even now, when most old fashions are much decayed, Auld Handsel Monday continues to be the holiday of the year to the class of farm-labourers in Scotland.—Book of Days, vol. i. p. 52.
Co. of Edinburgh.
At Currie the annual fair and Old Handsel Monday are the only periodical holidays for the working classes; on which latter occasion the servants enjoy the pleasure of return­ing to the bosom of their families, and spending the close of the day with their friends. The early part is generally observed in the less innocent amusement of raffles, and shooting with fire-arms, which, being often old and rusty, as well as wielded by inexperienced hands, have occasioned 6ome disagreeable accidents.—Stat. Ace. of Scotland 1845, vol. i. p. 550.
Jan. 5.] EVE OF THE EPIPHANY.
Formerly itinerant minstrels used to bear a bowl of spiced wine to the houses of the gentry and others, from whom they expected a hospitable reception, and calling their bowl a wassail-bowl, they drank wassail to their entertainers.
In ancient kalendars is an observation on the 5th day of January, the Vigil of the Epiphany, " Kings created by beans,'* and the sixth day is called " Festival of Kings" with another remark, that " the ceremony of electing kings was continued with feasting for many days."—Med. AEvi Kalend. vol. i. p. 134.
Devonshire.
At Kingsbridge and Salcombe it was formerly customary for the ciderist, attended by his workmen with a large can or pitcher of cider, guns charged with powder, &c, to
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