British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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68                                 SHROVE TUESDAY.                        [FEB. 3.
was out, as it was termed, it was lawful to steal the thing played with ; this was called smugging, and it was expressed by the boys in a doggrel air.
"Tops are in, spin 'em agin.
Tops are out, smugging about." or,
"Tops are in, spin 'em agin.
Dumps are out, &c."
The fair cock was not allowed to have his stand extended behind more than his height and half as much more, nor much thicker than himself, and he was not to extend in width more than his height, nor to project over the stand ; but fraudulent cocks were made extending laterally over the side, so as to prevent his lying down sideways, and with a long stand behind; the body of the cock was made thinner, and the stand thicker, by which means the cock bent upon being struck, and it was impossible to knock him over.Every Day Book, vol. i. p. 253.
Threshing the Hen was a custom formerly practised on this day. The following account taken from Tusser Bedivivus, 1710 (8vo. June, p. 15), is curious. " The hen," says the writer, " is hung at a fellow's back, who also has some horse-bells about him, the rest of the fellows are blinded, and have boughs in their hands, with which they chase this fellow and his hen about some large court or small enclosure. The fellow with his hen and bells shifting as well as he can, they follow the sound, and sometimes hit him and his hen ; other times, if he can get behind one of them, they thresh one another well favouredly; but the jest is, the maids are to blind the fellows, which they do with their aprons, and the cunning baggages will endear their sweethearts with a peeping-hole, whilst the others look out as sharp to hinder it. Alter this the hen is boiled with bacon, and store of pancakes and fritters are made."
The same writer adds that after the hen-threshing, " she that is noted for lying a-bed long, or any other miscarriage, hath the first pancake presented to her, which most commonly falls to the dogs' share at last, for no one will own it their due."
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