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.                                    S3
dexterity and force of the nail-driving was so quick and sure that a single blow seldom failed of doing the business effectually. Withdrawal of the nail without a proper instrument was out of the question, and consequently, the person nailed was forced either to leave part of his coat as a cognisance of his attachment, or quit the spot with a hole in it. At every nailing and pinning shouts of laughter arose from the perpetrators, yet it often happened to one who turned and smiled at the duress of another, that he also found himself nailed. Efforts at extrication increased mirth; nor was the presence of a constable, who was usually em­ployed to attend and preserve free " ingress, egress, and regress," sufficiently awful to deter the offender.—Every Day Book, vol. i. p. 50.
A curious custom of mediaeval origin is observed at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, on the festival of the Epiphany. After the reading of the sentence at the offertory, " Let your light so shine before men," &c, while the organ plays, two members of her Majesty's household, wearing the royal livery, descend from the royal pew and advance to the altar rails, preceded by the usher, where they present to one of the two officiating clergymen a red bag, edged with gold lace or braid, which is received in an offertory basin, and then reverently placed on the altar. This bag or purse is understood to contain the Queen's offering of gold, frank­incense, and myrrh, in commemoration of the gifts of the Magi to the infant Saviour.—Echo, Jan. 7th, 1869. In the Lady's Mag. for 17G0, is the following: Sunday Jan. 6th, being Twelfth Day, and a collar and offering day at St. James', his Majesty, preceded by the heralds, pursuivants, &c, and the knights of the Garter, Thistle, and Bath, in the collars of their respective orders, went to the Royal Chapel at St. James', and offered gold, myrrh, and frankincense, in imitation of the Eastern Magi offering to our Saviour.
Isle of Man.
In this island there is not a barn unoccupied on the whole twelve days after Christmas, every parish hiring fiddlers at the public charge. On Twelfth Day the fiddler
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