British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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262                                      may day.                              [May r.
At Islip the children, carrying May-garlands, go about in little groups, singing the following carol:
" Good morning, missus and master, I wish you a happy day; Please to smell my garland, Because it is the first of May."
Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 219.
It has been usual for the people in this neighbourhood to assemble on the Wrekin hill on the Sunday after May-day, and the three successive Sundays, to drink a health " to all friends round the Wrekin;" but as on this annual festival various scenes of drunkenness and licentiousness were frequently exhibited, its celebration has of late been very properly discouraged by the magistracy, and is going deservedly to decay.Every Day Book, vol. ii. p. 599.
At Minehead May-day is observed by the celebration of a custom called " Hobby-horsing." A number of young men, mostly fishermen and sailors, having previously made some grotesque figures of light stuff, rudely resembling men and horses with long tails, sufficiently large to cover and disguise the persons who are to carry them, assemble together and perambulate the town and neighbourhood, performing a variety of antics, to the great amusement of the children and young persons. They never fail to pay a visit to Dunster Castle, where, after having been hospitably regaled with strong beer and victuals, they always receive a present in money. Many other persons, inhabitants of the places they visit, give them small sums, and such persons as they meet are also asked to contribute a trifle; if they are refused, the person of the refuser is subjected to the ceremony of booting or pursuing. This is done by some of the attendants holding his person while one of the figures inflicts ten slight blows on him with the top of a boot, he is then liberated, and all parties give three huzzas. The most trifling sum buys otf this ceremony, and it is seldom or never performed but on
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