British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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40                                   PLOUGH MONDAY.                            [JAN. 7.
premises they happen to be near.—Jour, of Arch. Assoc. 1852, vol. vii. p. 202.
Plough Monday is observed in this county. The mummers are called " Plough-Witchers," and their cere­mony, " Plough-Witching."—N. & Q. 2nd S. vol. ix. p. 381.
Macaulay (History of Claybrooh, 1791, p. 128,) says: On Plough Monday I have taken notice of an annual display of morris-dancers at Claybrook, who come from the neigh­bouring villages of Sapcote and Sharnford.
A correspondent of the Book of Days, vol. i. p. 94, giving the following interesting account as to how Plough Monday was, in days gone by, celebrated in the county, says:— Eude though it was, the Plough procession threw a life into the dreary scenery of winter, as it came winding along the quiet rutted lanes, on its way from one village to another; for the ploughmen from many a surrounding hamlet and lonely farmhouse united in the celebration of Plough Monday. It was nothing unusual for at least a score of the " sons of the soil" to yoke themselves with ropes to the plough, having put on clean smock frocks in honour of the day. There was no limit to the number who joined in the morris-dance, and were partners with " Bessy,'' who carried the money-box; and all these had ribbons in their hats, and pinned about them wherever there was room to display a bunch. Many a hardworking country Molly lent a helping hand in decorating out her Johnny for Plough Monday, and finished him with an admiring exclamation of " Lawks, John! thou does look smart, surely,'' Some also wore small bunches of corn in their hats, from which the wheat wras soon shaken out by the ungainly jumping which they called dancing. Occasion­ally, if the winter was severe, the procession was joined by
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