British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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May i.]                              may day.                                      263
those who purposely throw themselves in their way, and join the party, or obstruct them in their vagaries. This custom probably owes its origin to some ancient practice of peram­bulating the boundaries of the parish.— Savage, History of Carthampton, p. 583.
Staffordshiee.
At Uttoxeter groups of children carry garlands of flowers about the town. The garlands consist of two hoops, one passing through the other, which give the appearance of four half circles, and they are decorated with flowers and ever­greens and surmounted with a bunch of flowers as a sort of crown, and in the centre of the hoops is a pendent orange and flowers. Mostly one or more of the children carry a little pole or stick, with a collection of flowers tied together at one end, and carried vertically, and the children themselves are adorned with ribbons and flowers. Thus they go from house to house, which they are encouraged to do by the pence they obtain.—Redfern, History of Uttoxeter, 1865, p. 262,
Suffolk.
Formerly in this county it was the custom in most farm-houses for any servant who could bring in a branch of hawthorn in full blossom to receive a dish of cream for breakfast. To this practice the following rhyme apparently alludes:—
" This is the day, And here is our May, The finest ever seen, It is fit for the queen;
So pray, ma'am, give us a cup of your cream."— Brand, Pop. Antiq. 1849, vol. i. p. 229.
SUBREY.
In the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark, says Allen (His­tory of Surrey and Sussex, 1829, vol. l. p. 261), there was an ancient custom for the principal inhabitants to moot and dine together annually on the first of May. This was called the " May-feast." The gentleman who presided on the
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