British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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184                                all fools' day,                      [April i.
upon their breasts, put them in mind what innocent lambs they must be, now that of sinful, high, and haughty men they were by baptism made low, and little children of Almighty God, such as ought to retain in their manners and lives the Paschal feasts which they had accomplished.
Seymour in his Survey of London (1734, B. iv. p. 100) tells us that the aldermen used to meet the Lord Mayor and sheriffs at St. Paul's in their scarlet gowns, furred, without their cloaks, to hear the sermon.
Fenton in his Tour through Pembrokeshire (1811, p. 495) alludes to the game of Knappan as being played at Pwlldu, in the parish of Penbedw, on low Easter-day. He says the knappan was a ball of some hard wood, of such a size as a man might hold in his hand, and was boiled in tallow to make it slippery. The players at this game were very numerous, frequently amounting to a thousand or fifteen hundred people, parish against parish, hundred against hundred, and sometimes county against county. When the company assembled, about one or two o'clock in the after­noon, entirely naked, with the exception of a light pair of breeches, a great shout was given as the signal to begin, and the ball was hurled bolt upright into the air by one of the parties and at its fall he that caught it hurled it towards the county or goal he played for. The players consisted of horse and foot, who in the purest times of the game never mixed, being governed by certain rules and regulations that were never violated; but long before this game was disused various abuses and disorders had crept into it, so that it served to inflame every bad passion, engender revenge, foment private quarrels, and stimulate even to bloodshed and murder.
April i.]                  ALL FOOLS' DAY.
On this day a custom prevails not only in Britain, but on the Continent, of imposing upon and ridiculing people in a
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