British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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176                                     EASTER MONDAY.                  [March 23.
he was taken; and, as sure as he was taken, he was heaved and kissed, and compelled to pay sixpence for " leave and licence " to depart.
At one time a custom was observed at Birmingham, on the Easter Monday, called " Clipping the Church." This cere­mony was performed amid crowds of people and shouts of joy, by the children of the different charity schools, who at a certain hour flocked together for the purpose. The first comers placed themselves hand in hand with their backs against the Church, and were joined by their companions, who gradually increased in number, till at last the chain was of sufficient length completely to surround the sacred edifice. ' As soon as the hand of the last of the train had grasped that of the first, the party broke up, and walked in procession to the other Church (for in those days Birmingham boasted but of two), where the ceremony was repeated.—Every Day Book, vol. i. p. 431.
They have an ancient custom at Coleshill, says Blount, (Jocular Tenures, Beckwith's Edition, p. 286), that if the young men of the town can catch a hare, and bring it to the parson of the parish before ten o'clock on Easter Monday, the parson is bound to give them a calf's-head, and a hundred eggs for breakfast, and a groat in money,
At sunset upon Easter Monday, and at no other period throughout the year, a game is played by the children of Evesham called " thread-my-needle." From the season of this observance, as well as the cry of the players while elevating their arms arch-wise, which now is:
" Open the gates as high as the sky, And let Victoria's troops pass by,''
it is probable, says May in his Hist, of Evesham (1845, p. 319), that the custom originally had reference to the great festival of the church and the triumphant language of the Psalmist, applied to the event commemorated at this period—Psalm xxiv. 9: 'Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates;
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