British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search



Share page  


Previous Contents Next

146                                 CHARE THURSDAY.                   [MARCH 19
ciples, and bade them eat it, saying it was his flesh and blood.'—Shepherd's Kalendar.
" * If a man asks why Shere Thursday is called so, ye may say that in holy Chircheit is called Cena Domini, our Lordes Super day. It is also in Englyshe called Sher Thursday, for in old faders dayes the people wolde that day shere theyr hedes, and clippe theyr berdes, and poll theyr hedes, and so make them honest agenst Ester day. For on Good Fryday they doo theyr bodyes none ease, but suffre penaunce in mynde of him that that day suffred his passyon for all mankynde. On Ester even it is time to here theyr service, and after service to make holy daye.
"'Then, as Johan Bellet sayth, on Sher Thursday a man sholde so poll his here, and clype his berde, and a preest sholde shave his crowne, so that there sholde nothynge be between God and hym.'"—Festival, quoted by Dr. Words-wor.h, in Eccles. Biog. vol, i. p. 297.
In Brand's Pop. Antiq. (revised by Sir Henry Ellis), London, 1841, in the chapter headed " Shere Thursday, also Maundy Thursday," the same derivation is given; and in one of the notes, a passage is quoted from the Gent Mag. (July 1779, p. 349), in which the writer says :
"Maundy Thursday, called by Collier Shier Thursday, Cotgrave calls by a word of the same sound and import, Sheere Thursday. Perhaps—for I can only go upon conjec­ture—as shear means purus, mundus, it may allude to the washing of the disciples' feet (John xiii. 5., et seq.), and be tantamount to clean. See 10th verse, and Lye's Saxon Dic­tionary v. Scip. If this does not please, the Saxon scipan signifies divider e, and the name may come from the distribution of alms upon that day, for which see ArchceoL Soc. Antiq., vol. i. p. 7, seq.; Spelman, Gloss, v. Mandatum; and Du Frcsne, vol. iv. p. 400. Please to observe, too, that on that day they also icashed the altars, so that the term in question may allude to that business.—See Collier's Eccles. History, vol. ii. p. 157."
Chare Thursday, however, says Dr. Hahn (N. & Q. 3rd S. vol. viii. p. 389), is the correct expression, and has nothing whatever to do with shearing or sheer, or scipan. Shere is only a corruption of chare = char, care, or carr.
Previous Contents Next