British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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Jan. 6.]                           twelfth day.                                   31
captured, and replaced on the lady's head, she expressed her obligation to the men, giving them each some money, and promised a piece of land (to be vested in certain persons in trust) to throw up a hood annually on Old Christmas Day.* She also ordered that the twelve men engaged to contest the race for the hood should be clothed (pro temp.) in scarlet jerkins and velvet caps : the hood to be thrown in the same place as the one where she lost hers. The custom is yet followed; and though the Meeres on which she was riding has long ago been brought into a state of cultivation, and the road through been diverted, yet an old mill stands in the field where the road passed through, and is pointed out as the place where the original scene took place, and the hood is usually thrown up from this mill. There is generally a great concourse of people from the neighbouring villages who also take part in the proceedings; and when the hood is thrown up by the chief of the boggons, or by the officials, it becomes the object of the villagers to get the hood to their own village, by throwing or kicking it, similar to the foot-ball. The other eleven men, called boggons, being stationed at the corners and sides of the field to prevent, if possible, its being thrown out of the field ; and should it chance to fall into any of their hands it is "boggoned," and forthwith returned to the chief, who again throws it up from the mill as before. Whoever is fortunate enough to get it out of the field, tries to get it to his village, and usually takes it to the public house he is accustomed to frequent, and the land­lord regales him with hot ale and rum.
The game usually continues until dusk, and is frequently attended by broken shins and bruised heads. The next day is occupied by the boggons going round the villages, singing as waits, who are regaled with hot furmenty ; from some they get coppers given them, and from others a small measure of wheat, according to the means of the donor. The day after that they assume the character of plough bullocks, and at a certain part of West Woodside they 41 smoke the fool;" that is, straw is collected by those who like, and piled on a heap, a rope being tied or slung over
* The quantity of land given by Ludy Mowbray was forty acres, known by the name of the Hoodlands.
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