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 io.]
Whitsuntide is observed at Polperro by a custom of the young people going in droves into the country to partake of milk and cream.—N. & Q. 1st S. vol. xii. p. 298.
Carew in his Survey of Cornwall (p. 68), speaking of the church ale, says that "two young men of the parish are yerely chosen by their last foregoers to be wardens, who, dividing the task, make collection among the parishioners of whatsoever provision it pleaseth them voluntarily to bestow. This they employ in brewing, baking, and other acates [provisions] against Whitsuntide; upon which holy-days the neighbours meet at the church-house, and there merrily feed on their owne victuals, contributing some petty portion to the stock, which, by many smalls, groweth to a meetly greatness; for there is entertayned a kind of emu­lation between these wardens, who, by his graciousness in gathering and good husbandry in expending, can best advance the churche's profit. Besides, the neighbour parishes at those times lovingly visit each one another and this way frankly spend their money together. The afternoones are consumed in such exercises as olde and yong folke (having leisure) doe accustomably weare out the time withall. When the feast is ended, the wardens yeeld in their account to the parishioners, and such money as exceedeth the disbursement is layd up in store, to defray any extraordinary charges arising in the parish or imposed on them for the good of the country or the prince's service, neither of which commonly gripe so much but that somewhat still remayneth to cover the purse's bottom." This custom is falling into desuetude, if it be not already discontinued.—See N. & Q. 1st S. vol. xii. 298.
At this season, and also at Martinmas, are held hirings for farmers' servants. Those who offer their services stand in a body in the market-place, and to distinguish themselves hold a bit of straw or green branch in their mouths. When the market is over the girls begin to file off, and gently pace the streets with a view of gaining admirers, while the young
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