British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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88                                       SHROVE TUESDAY.                             [FEB. 3.
belfry of the church at eleven o'clock, and in turn toll the tenor bell for an hour, at the sound of which all the house­wives in the parish commence frying pancakes. The sexton, who is present receives a small fee from each lad.
At Scarborough on the morning of Shrove Tuesday hawkers parade the streets with barrows loaded with party-coloured balls, which are purchased by all ranks of the in­habitants. With these, and armed with sticks, men, women, and children repair to the sands below the old town, and indiscriminately commence a contest, one party trying to drive the ball into the sea, and another equally zealous in their attempts to rescue it.
Formerly it was customary to take such hens as had not laid eggs before Shrove Tuesday, and to thrash them to death, as being no longer of any use. The same custom also pre­vailed in some parts of Cornwall.— Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 81 ; Book of Days, vol. i. p. 238.
At Harding, in Flintshire, the lord of the manor, attended by his bailiff, formerly provided a foot-ball, and after throw­ing it down in a field near the church (called thence foot­ball field) the young and old assembled together to play at foot-ball.—Kennett MS. Br1sth Museum.
At Tenby Shrove Tuesday was formerly a general holiday, when the time was divided between foot-ball-kicking and pancake-eating. The shutters remained upon the shop-windows, while the windows of the private houses were barricaded with wood, or blinded with laths, bags, and sack­ing.—Mason, Tales and Traditions of Tenby, 1858, pp. 17, 18.
Fastren's E'en is celebrated annually, after the Border fashion, in the month of February, the day being fixed by the following antiquated couplet:
" First comes Candlemas, syne the New Moon; The next Tuesday after is Fastren's E'en."
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