British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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56                                        CANDLEMAS DAY.                              [FEB. 2.
looked forward to by the young ones as an event of some importance; for of usage they had a sort of right to sit up that night, and partake of the refreshment, till all retired to rest, the signal for which was the self-extinction of the Candlemas Candle.—Every Day Book, vol. i. p. 206,
Formerly at Eipon, on the Sunday before Candlemas Day, the collegiate church was illuminated with candles.— Gent Mag. 1790, vol. lx. p. 719.
At grammar schools it is, or was, an universal custom for the children attending schools to make small presents of money to their teachers. The master sits at his desk or table, exchanging for the moment his usual authoritative look for one of bland civility, and each child goes up in turn and lays his offering down before him, the sum beiug generally proportioned to the abilities of the parent. Six­pence and a shilling are the usual sums in most schools, but some give half, and whole crowns, and even more. The boy and girl who give most are respectively styled king and queen. The children being then dismissed for a holiday proceed along the streets in a confused procession, carrying the king and queen in state, exalted upon that seat, formed of crossed hands, which, probably from this circumstance, is called " the king's chair." In some schools it used to be cus­tomary for the teacher, on the conclusion of the offerings, to make a bowl of punch, aud regale each boy with a glass to drink the king and queen's health, and a biscuit. The latter part of the day was usually devoted to what was called the Candlema88 bleeze or blaze, namely, the conflagration of any piece of furze which might exist in their neighbourhood, or, were that wanting, of an artificial bonfire.
According to Sinclair the king's power lasted for six weeks, and during his reign he was not only entitled to demand an afternoon's play for the scholars once a week, but
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