British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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March 15.]
PALM SUNDAY.
127
In Howe's edition of Stoic's Chronicle (1615, fol. p. 595), it is stated, under the year 1548, that " this yeere the cere­mony of bearing of palmes on Palme Sunday was left off, and not used as before."—Med. AEvi Kalend. vol. i.p. 181; Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 124.
It is still customary with our boys, both in the south and north of England, to go out and gather slips with the willow-flowers or buds at this time. These seem to have been selected as substitutes for the real palm, because they are generally the only things which can be easily obtained at this season. This practice is still observed in the neighbourhood of London. The young people go a-palming; and the sallow is sold in London streets for the whole week preceding Palm Sunday. In the north it is called going a-palmsoning or palmsning.—Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 127.
Stow in his Survey of London (1603, p. 98) says that "in the weeke before Easter had ye great shewes made for the fetching in of a twisted tree or with, as they termed it, out of the woodes into the kinge's house, and the like into every man's house of honor or worship." Probably this was a substitute for the palm.
An instance of the great antiquity of this practice in England is afforded by the Domesday Survey, under Shrop­shire, vol. i. p. 252, where a tenant is stated to have rendered in payment a bundle of box twigs on Palm Sunday, " Terra dimid. car unus reddit inde f ascem buxi indie Palmarum."
By an Act of Common Council, 1 and 2 Phil, and Mary, for retrenching expenses, it was ordered, "that from henceforth there shall be no wxjth fetcht home at the Maior's or Sheriff's Houses. Neither shall they keep any lord of misrule in any of their houses."—Strype's Stow, 1720, book i. p- 246.
It was formerly the custom in some of the northern parts of England for the young men and maids who received the sacrament to walk after dinner into the corn-fields, and to bless the corn and fruits of the earth.—Kennett, MS. Brit. Mus.
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