British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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192                               st. george's day.                  [April 23.
residence, to receive their " tuth H poles, which are usually decorated with ribbons and flowers. The iirst business of these officials, who are generally tradesmen of the borough, is to visit the various schools and ask a holiday for the children; then to call at each house and demand a toll from the gentlemen, and a kiss from the ladies, and distribute oranges ad libitum throughout the day, in expectation of which a troop of children follow them through the streets, which are for several hours kept alive by the joyous shouts and huzzas. The high constable is elected at the annual court held to-day, and one of the curious customs is the sending out by that officer's wife of a bountiful supply of cheesecakes among the ladies of the place.
April 20.]                   Worcestershire.
The 20th of April is the great fair-day of Tenbury, and there is a belief in the county that the cuckoo is never heard till Tenbury fair-day, or after Pershore fair-day, which is-the 26th of June.*N. & Q. 2nd S. vol. i. p. 429.
April 23.]             ST. GEORGE'S DAY.
St. George's Day, though now passed over without notice, was formerly celebrated by feasts of cities and corporations, as we learn from Johan Bale, who, speaking of the neglect of public libraries, has the following curious apostrophe:
" O cyties of Englande, whose glory standeth more in bellye chere then in the serche of wysdome godlye. How cometh it that neyther you, nor your ydell masmongers, have
* Formerly there prevailed a singular custom peculiar to the county of Shropshire, called the " cuckoo-ale," which was celebrated in the month of May, and sometimes near the latter end of April. As soon as the fir?t cuckoo had been heard all the labouring classes left off work, even if in the middle of the day, and the time was devoted to mirth and jollity over what was called the cuckoo-ale.Morning Fost, May 17th, 1821.
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