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. 7.]                         plough monday.                                 39
to break the ground, to sow barley, and other corn, which they at that time make a holiday to themselves as a finishing stroke after Christmas, which is their master's holiday time, as 'prentices in many places make it the same, appropriated by consent to revel among themselves."
Formerly the following custom prevailed in the northern counties of England on Plough Monday. If a ploughman came to the kitchen-hatch, and could cry," Cock in the pot," before the maid could cry " Cock on the dunghill," he was entitled to a cock for Shrove Tuesday.—N. & Q. 2nd S. vol. i. p. 386.
Plough Monday is observed at Cambridge by parties going about the town variously dressed in ribbons, etc.; some with a female among them, some with a man in women's clothes, some with a plough: they dance and collect money which is afterwards spent in a feast.—Time's Telescope, 1816, p. 3.
On Plough Monday the " Plough bullocks'' are occa­sionally seen; they consist of a number of young men from various farmhouses, who are dressed up in ribbons, their shirts (for they wear no coats or waistcoats) literally covered with rosettes of various colours and their hats bound with ribbons, and decorated with every kind of ornament that comes in their way; these young men yoke themselves to a plough, which they draw about, preceded by a band of music, from house to house, collecting money. They are accompanied by the Fool and Bessy; the Fool being dressed in the skin of a calf, with the tail hanging down behind, and Bessy generally a young man in female attire. The Fool carries an inflated bladder tied to the end of a long stick, by way of whip, which he does not fail to apply pretty soundly to the heads and shoulders of his team. When anything is given a cry of " Largess !" is raised, and a dance performed round the plough. If a refusal to their application for money is made they not unfrequently plough up the pathway, door-stone, or any other portion of the
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