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 29.]                       ROYAL OAK DAY.                                    301
The 25th of May, as the Whitsunday term (old style), is a great day in Scotland, being that on which, for the most part, people change their residences. The Scotch generally lease their houses by the year, and are thus at every twelve-month's end able to shift their place of abode. Accordingly, every Candlemas a Scotch family gets an opportunity of considering whether it will, in the language of the country, sit or flit. The landlord or his agent calls to learn the decision on this point; and if "flit" is the resolution, he takes measures by advertising to obtain a new tenant. The two or three days following upon the Purification, therefore, become distin­guished by a feathering of the streets with boards projected from the windows, intimating "A House to Let."—See Book of Days, vol. i. p. 679.
In the Diary of John Evelyn (1859, vol. i. p. 373), under the date of May 29th, 1665, is the following statement: —
This was the first anniversary appointed by Act of Parlia­ment to be observed as a day of General Thanksgiving for the miraculous restoration of His Majesty: our vicar preach­ing on Psalm cxviii., 24, requiring us to be thankful and rejoice, as indeed we had cause.*
On this day the chaplain of the House of Commons preached in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, before "the House,'' usually represented by the Speaker, the Sergeant-at-arms, the clerks, and other officers, and some half-dozen members. This observance has been discontinued since 1858.—Timbs' Something for Everybody, 1861, p. 74.
It is customary, especially in the North of England, for
* The special form of prayer in commemoration of the ^Restoration of Charles IL, was removed from the Prayer Book by Act of Parliament (22 Vict. c. 2, March 25, 1859).
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