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.                                      265
the second; and whetstones of an inferior description for those who can only reach a state of mediocrity in " the nohle art of lying!" The people are the judges. Each candidate in rotation commences a story such as his fertile genius at the moment prompts, and the more marvellous and impro­bable his story happens to be, so much the greater chance is there of his success. After being amused in this manner for a considerable length of time, and awarding the prizes to the most deserving, the host of candidates, judges, and other attendants adjourn to the inns, where the sports of the day very often end in a few splendid battles.—Every Day Book, vol. ii. p. 599.
In this county it is the practice, every May-morning, to make folks May-goslings,* a practice similar to that on the first of April. This custom prevails till twelve o'clock at noon, after which time none carry on the sport. On this day, too, ploughmen and others decorate themselves with garlands and flowers, and parade through different towns for their annual collection, which they spend in the evening with their sweethearts at the maypole.—Time's Telescope, 1829, p. 176.
The dance round the Maypole is kept up, says Cuthbert Bede (N. & Q. 1st S. vol. x. p. 92), at the village of Clent, near Hagley.
About a fortnight previous to May-day the question among the lads and lasses is, " Who will turn out to dance in the summer this year ? " From that time the names of the performers are buzzed in the village, and rumour proclaims them throughout the surrounding neighbourhood. Nor is it asked with less interest, "Who will carry the garland?" and " Who will be the Cadi?" About nine days or a week pre­vious to the festival a collection is made of the gayest ribbons that can be procured. During this time, too, the chosen garland-bearer is busily employed. Accompanied by one from among the intended dancers who is best known
* See page 233.
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