British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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180                                         LADY DAY.                        [MARCH 2$.
Northumberland.
Holly-bussing, says a writer in the Newcastle Express (April 16th, 1857), is a vernacular expression for a very ancient custom celebrated at Netherwitton, the origin of which is unknown. On Easter Tuesday the lads and lasses of the village and vicinity meet, and, accompanied by the parish clerk, who plays an excellent fiddle, the inspiring strains of which put mirth and mettle in their heels, pro­ceed to the wood to get holly; with which some deco­rate a stone cross that stands in the village while others are "bobbing around" to "Speed the Plough" or "Birnie Bouzle."
March 25.]                    LADY DAY.
The Festival of the Annunciation commemorates in the Christian world the message of the Angel to the Virgin Mary: hence it was anciently called St. Mary's Day in Lent, to distinguish it from other festivals in her honour:
" Seinte Marie Daye in Leynte, among All other dayes gode, Is ryt for to holde heghe He so [whoso] bein vnderstode."
Harl. MS. Codex 2277, fol. i.
All the festivals of the Virgin are properly Lady Days, but this falling in Lent, and being the first quarter day for rents and other payments, readily became Lady Day par excellence. Otherwise considered, it is simply an abridgment of " Our Lady Day the Annunciation," as we find it written in the reign of Henry the Sixth. Some old customs on paying quarterly rents are noticed in Gascoigne's Flowers of Poesie. 4to, 1575:
And when the tenantes come to paie their quarter's rent, They bring some fowle at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent, At Chribtmasse a capon, at Michaelmasse a goose, And somewhat else at New Yeare's tide for feare their lease flie loose." Med. AEvi Kalend. vol.i. p. 206; Forster, Perenn. Calend. 1841, p. 515.
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