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 23.]                  easter monday.                                173
In Lancashire, and in Cheshire, Staffordshire, and War­wickshire, and perhaps in other counties, the ridiculous custom of " lifting' or heaving' is practised. On Easter Monday the men lift the women, and on Easter Tuesday the women lift or heave the men. The process is performed by two lusty men or women joining their hands across each other's wrists, then, making the person to be heaved sit down on their arms, they lift him up aloft two or three times, and often carry him several yards along a street. A grave clergyman who happened to be passing through a town in Lancashire on an Easter Tuesday, and having to stay an hour or two at an inn, was astonished by three or four lusty women rushing into his room, exclaiming they had " come to lift him!" " To lift him !" repeated the amazed divine; " what can you mean ? " " Why, your reverence, we've come to lift you, 'cause it's Easter Tuesday." "Lift me because its Easter Tuesday ! I don't understand you—is there any such custom here ?" " Yes to be sure; why, don't you know ? All us women was lifted yesterday, and us lifts the men to-day in turn. And, in course, it's our reights and duties to lift 'em." After a little further parley the reverend traveller com­promised with his fair visitors for half-a-crown, and thus escaped the dreaded compliment.—Book of Days, vol. i., p. 425.
Agnes Strickland in her Lives of the Queens of England (1864, vol. i. p. 303), narrates how on the Easter Monday of 1290 seven of Queen Eleanora's ladies unceremoniously invaded the chamber of King Edward (L), and seizing their majestic master, proceeded to " heave him " in his chair, till he was glad to pay a fine of fourteen pounds to enjoy his own peace and be set at liberty.
The following extract is taken from the Public Advertiser, April 13th, 1787 :—The custom of rolling down Greenwich-hill at Easter is a relique of old city manners, but peculiar to the metropolis. Old as the custom has been, the counties of Shropshire, Cheshire and Lancashire boast of one of equal antiquity, which they call heaving, and perform with the
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