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 19.] maundy Thursday.                         139
March 18.]             SHEELAH'S DAY.
The day after St. Patrick's Day is " Sheelah's Day," or the festival in honour of Sheelah. Its observers are not go anxious to determine who " Sheelah " was as they are earnest in her celebration. Some say she was " Patrick's wife," others that she was " Patrick's mother," while all agree that her immortal memory is to be maintained by potations of whisky. The shamrock worn on St. Patrick's Day should be worn also on Sheelah's Day, and on the latter night be drowned in the last glass. Yet it frequently happens that the shamrock is flooded in the last glass of St. Patrick's Day, and another last glass or two, or more, on the same night deluges the over-soddencd trefoil. This is not "quite correct," but it is endeavoured to be remedied the next morning by the display of a fresh shamrock, which is steeped at night in honour of " Sheelah" with equal devotedness.—Every Day Book, vol. ii. p. 387,
The day before Good Friday is termed Maundy Thursday, because, says the Br1sth Apollo (1709, ii. 7), on this day our Saviour washed his disciples' feet, to teach them the great duty of being humble; and therefore he gave them a com­mand to do as he had done, to imitate their Master in all proper instances of condescension and humility. The origin, consequently, of this custom is of very great antiquity, and, unlike many other ceremonies connected with the Church before the Reformation, remains in existence in a modified form up to the present day. The original number
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