British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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174                                    EASTER MONDAY.                  [MARCH 23.
following ceremonies, on the Monday and Tuesday in the Easter week. On the first day, a party of men go with a chair into every house into which they can get admission, force every female to be seated in their vehicle, and lift them up three times with loud huzzas. For this they claim the reward of a chaste salute, which those who are too coy to submit to may get exempted from by a fine of one shilling, and receive a written testimony which secures them from a repetition of the ceremony for that day. On the Tuesday the women claim the same privilege, and pursue their business in the same manner, with this addition—that they guard every avenue to the town, and stop every passenger, pedestrian, equestrian or vehicular."
A correspondent of the Gent. Mag., 1784, vol. xcvi. p. 96, says that lifting was originally designed to represent our Saviour's Eesurrection.
In the Easter holidays the young men, says Fitzstephen (in his tract entitled Descriptio Nobilissimce Civitatis Lon-donice,' circa 1174), counterfeit a fight on the water: a pole is set up in the midst of the river, with a target strongly fastened to it, and a young man standing in the fore part of a boat, which is prepared to be carried on by the flowing of the tide, endeavours to strike the target in his passage.
If he succeeds so as to break his lance, and yet preserve his footing, his aim is accomplished; but if he fail, he tumbles into the water, and his boat passes away with the stream. On each side, however, of the target, ride two vessels, wherein are stationed several young men ready to snatch him from the water, as soon as he appears again above the surface.
Formerly the Lord Mayors and the sheriffs were accus­tomed to, separately, ask each of their friends as were alder­men or governors of the hospitals, whom they saw at church, to dine with them at their own houses. But, in process of time, however, it was agreed that the Lord Mayor should invite all that were at church on the first day ; and the two sheriffs, in their turn, on the next succeeding days. Hence, by degrees, they began to invite other of the friends, and the aldermen bringing their ladies, other ladies were also invited, so that
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