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.                                305
knockers, latches, or other parts of the house-doors of the wealthy, who take them in to place in their halls, &c. After breakfast these men go round to such houses fur beer, &c. Should they not receive anything the following verses should be said:
" Shig-shag, penny a rag
[Bang his head in Croommell's bag],
All up in a bundle." —
but fear often prevents them. However, the lads have no fear, and use it freely to any one without an oak-apple or oak-leaf on some part of his person, and visible—ill-treating him for his want of loyalty. After noon the loyalty ceases and then if any one be charged with having shig-shag, the following verses are said:
" Shig-shag's gone past, You're the biggest fool at last; When shig-shag comes again, You'll be the biggest fool then."
And the one who charges the other with the oak-leaf receives the ill-treatment.—N* & Q. 1st S* vol. xii. p. 100.
Middlesex.
It was the custom, some years ago, to decorate the monu­ment of Richard Penderell (in the churchyard of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London), on the 29th of May, with oak branches; but in proportion to the decay of popularity in kings, this practice has declined.—Caufield, Portraits, Memoirs, and Characters of Remarkable Persons, 1794, p. 186.
Northamptonshire.
Formerly all the principal families in the town of North­ampton placed a large branch of oak over the door of their houses, or in their balconies, in remembrance of the restoration of Charles II. The oak-boughs are gradually disappearing, but the corporate body still goes in procession to All Saints Church, accompanied by the boys and girls of the different charity schools, each of them having a sprig of oak, with a gilt oak-apple placed in the front of their dress ; and should the season be unpropitious, and oak-apples be scarce, small gilded potatoes are substituted. The commemoration of this
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