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 20.]                     good Friday.                                  119
of Proclamations in the archives of the Society of Antiquaries of London (p. 138), we read :
" On Good Friday it shall be declared howe creepyng of the Crosse signifyeth an humblynge of ourselfe to Christe before the Crosse, and the kyssynge of it a memorie of our redemption made upon the Crosse."
Anciently it was a custom with the kings of England on Good Friday to hallow, with great ceremony, certain rings, the wearing of which was believed to prevent the falling sickness. The custom originated from a ring, long preserved Math great veneration in Westminster Abbey, which was reported to have been brought to King Edward by some persons coming from Jerusalem, and which he himself had long before given privately to a poor person, who had asked alms of him for the love he bare to St. John the Evangelist. The rings consecrated by the sovereign were called " Cramp-rings," and there was a special service for their consecration.
Andrew Boorde, in his Breviary of Health, 1557, speaking of the cramp, says, " The Kynge's Majestie hath a great helpe in this matter in halowyng crampe-ringes, and so geven without money or petition."
Good Friday has now almost ceased to be considered a fast by a great number of people. By many indeed its solemn significance is by no means neglected; but while these attend the churches others make high holiday. On this day excursion trains begin running, foot-races are ad­vertised, donkeys and gipsy drivers make their first appear­ance for the season on heaths and commons, and Cornish and Devonshire wrestlers struggle for muscular triumphs in the presence of excited multitudes.—N. & Q. 5th S. vol. i. p. 261.
In many parts a small loaf of bread is baked on the morning of Good Friday, and then put by till the same anniversary in the ensuing year. This bread is not intended to be eaten, but to be used as a medicine, and the mode of administering it is by grating a small portion of it into water and forming a sort of panada. It is believed to be good for many disorders, but particularly for diarrhoea, for which it is considered a sovereign remedy. Some years ago, a cottager lamented that her poor neighbour must certainly die of this complaint, because she had already given her two
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