British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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Feb. 3.]                       shrove Tuesday.                                  91
challenging all the parishes, under a certain penalty in case of declining his challenge. All the parishes declined the challenge except Scone, which beat the foreigner, and in commemoration of this gallant action the game was insti­tuted. Whilst the custom continued, every man in the parish, the gentry not excepted, was obliged to turn out and support the side to which he belonged; and the person who neglected to do his part on that occasion was fined.— Sinclair, Stat. Ace. of Scotland, 1796, vol. xviii. p. 88.
On this occasion the town of Melrose presents a most singular appearance, from the windows of the shops and dwellings in the main streets being barricaded. This pre­caution is necessary to prevent breakage, as football-playing on a most indiscriminate and unlimited scale is the order of the day. The ball is thrown up at the cross at one o'clock, when the young men of the town and neighbourhood, with a sprinkling of the married athletes, assemble in considerable numbers. The foot-balls used are previously supplied by a general public subscription, and from one o'clock the sport is kept up with great spirit until darkness sets in and puts a stop to the game. Business throughout the town is almost entirely suspended during the day.—Wade, History of Melrose Abbey, 1861, p. 144.
At Kilrush in the county of Clare, this is the greatest day in the year for weddings, and consequently the Roman Catholic priests are generally occupied in the celebration of matrimony from sunrise till midnight. The general fee on this occasion is two guineas and a half; and many thought­less couples, under the age of sixteen, pay it with cheerful­ness when they have not another penny in their possession. Those who do not marry on this day must wait until Easter Monday on account of the intervening Lent.—Mason, Stat. Ace. of Ireland, 1814, vol. ii. p. 458.
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