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.
267
cup or tankard. This garland, when completed on the eve of May-day, is left for the night at that farm-house from whence the dancers have received the most liberal loan of silver and plate for its decoration, or with that farmer who is distinguished in his neighbourhood as a good master, and liberal to the poor. Its deposit is a token of respect, and it is called for early on the following morning. The whole party being assembled, they march, headed by the Cadi. After him follows the garland-bearer, and then the fiddler, while the bells of the village merrily ring the signal of their departure. As the procession moves slowly along the Cadi varies his station, hovers about his party, brandishes a ladle, and assails every passenger for a customary and expected donation. When they arrive at a farm-house they take up their ground on the best station for dancing. In the mean­time the buffoonery of the Cadi is exhibited without intermis­sion. He assails the inmates of the house for money, and when this is obtained the procession moves off to the next farm­house. They do not confine the ramble of the day to their own parish, but go from one to another, and to any county town in the vicinity. When they return to their resident village in the evening, the bells, ringing merrily, announce their arrival. The money collected during the day's ex­cursion is appropriated to defray whatever expenses may have been incurred in the necessary preparations, and the remainder is spent in jovial festivity.—Every Day Bookr vol. i. p. 562.
At Tenby, says Mason (Tales and Traditions of Tenby, 1858, p. 22), it was customary for the possessors of a maypole to try and pull down those set up in other places. A watch was therefore set up round each.
SCOTLAND.
In some parts of Scotland, says Pennant, there is a rural sacrifice on May-day. A cross is cut on some sticks, each of which is dipped in pottage, and the Thursday before Easter one of these is placed over the sheep-cote, the stable, or the cow-house. On the first of May they are carried to the hill, where the rites are celebrated, all decked with wild flowers,
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