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.                                     273
tions. This practice gave rise to a threat, yet made use of " I will drag you like a horse's head to the bone-fire." About dusk, when no more money can be collected, the bush is trimmed, the turf and bones are made ready to set on fire, the candles are all lighted, the bush fully illuminated, and the boys, giving three huzzas, begin to dance and jump round it. After an hour or so the heap of turf and bones is set fire to, and when the candles are burnt out the bush is taken up and thrown into the flames. They continue playing about until the fire is burnt out, each then returns to his home, and so ends their May-day.
About two or three miles from Dublin on the great Northern road is a village called Finglass. A high pole is decorated with garlands, and visitors come in from different parts of the country, and dance round it to whatever music chance may have conducted there. The best male and female dancers are chosen king and queen, and placed on chairs. When the dancing is over they are carried by some of the party to an adjacent public-house, where they regale themselves with ham, beef, whisky-punch, ale, cakes, and porter, after which they generally have a dance indoors, and then disperse. There is an old song relating to the above custom, beginning
" Ye lads and lasses all, to-day, To Finglass let us haste away, With hearts so light and dresses gay, To dance around the maypole."
Every Day Book, vol. ii. p. 595.
On May-day also, or on the preceding night, women put a stocking filled with yarrow under their pillow, and recite the following lines:
" Good morrow, good yarrow, good morrow to thee; I hope 'gain [by] the morrow my lover to see, And that he may be married to me; The colour of his hair, and the clothes he does wear; And if he he for me may his face be turned to me ; And if he be not, dark and surly he may be, And his back be turned to me,"
N. & Q. 4th S. vol. iv. p. 505.
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